Weekly Current Affairs

GST Council gets Cabinet nod, roll-out likely in April [Economy]

  • The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council and its Secretariat.
  • The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on the GST could cease to be the forum at which the discussions between the Centre and States would take place, the Centre said, after announcing the creation of the Council.
  • The Empowered Committee is headed by Amit Mitra, Finance Minister of West Bengal, a State that is yet to ratify the constitutional amendment enabling the rollout of the GST.
  • Each State is to nominate as a voting member to it a minister, who may or may not be holding the finance or taxation portfolios. The Centre will have two representatives on the Council: the Union Finance Minister will chair it and the Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue will be a member.
  • The Finance Ministry hopes the GST rates, including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities and disasters, exemptions, threshold limits and the other issues will be decided by November 22, so that the model laws can then be considered for passage in the winter session of Parliament.
  • The Cabinet’s approvals include clearances for the creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office in New Delhi. It also sanctioned the creation of new jobs — Additional Secretary to the Council and four posts of Commissioner at the level of Joint Secretary to the Centre — in the Secretariat.
  • The appointments approved include that of the Union Revenue Secretary as the ex-officio secretary of the Council and the inclusion of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chairperson as a permanent and non-voting invitee to all of its proceedings.