The GST Council refrained from increasing tax rates during its meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. A committee of secretaries, including officials from Centre and states, made a presentation on ways to augment revenue, but it did not contain any direct or indirect suggestions on rate hike or rate reduction, clarified Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The Finance Minister said that the secretarial panel had presented a preliminary picture of growth rate since the GST regime was rolled out. "The Council and the ministers agreed they have to mull over for some time and then come back. Also, there are suggestions that some more data will have to be collected, analysed and then presented to the Council all over again," she said.
The panel discussed whether the consumption has improved as a result of rate rationalisations in the past, FM Sitharaman said. Some ministers in the GST Council also demanded attention to whether technology has helped in augmenting GST collection and plugging leakages, she added.
The GST Council did decide on a uniform rate for lotteries, which will now be taxed at the highest slab of 28 per cent. The panel of finance ministers voted for the first time ever to decide on the matter. The new rates will be applicable from March 1, 2020.
The GST Council has also decided to waive GST payable for industrial and financial infrastructure plots by entities with 20 per cent or more ownership of Centre or state government. This change will come into effect from January 1, 2020.
The GST panel also extended the deadline for filing annual return GSTR-9 and reconciliation form GSTR-9C for the financial year 2017-18 to January 31, 2020. The panel also introduced a slew of measures to enhance compliance.
"GST Council has decided to waive the late fee for taxpayers who have not filed returns from July 2017 to November 2019 if all the returns are filed by January 10, 2020. This has been done to facilitate filing all past returns as GSTR-1 is important for invoice matching. In case the taxpayers do not file GSTR-1 by January 10, 2020, the e-way bill for them will be blocked for them," said Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said.
He further added that input tax credit will be capped at 10 per cent from the earlier 20 per cent if the invoices are not updated.
On concerns raised by the states over compensation payment, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that she heard what the state finance ministers had to say. Everyone did recognise the fact one of the releases happened a couple of days ago, she added.