What will be the first physical meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, the 45th meeting of the Goods and Service Tax Council in Lucknow will be presided over by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and some crucial issues are likely to figure prominently in it.
The 44th GST Council meeting took place via video conferencing on June 12 wherein some key issues were addressed and GST rates on several items crucial in the fight against the pandemic were slashed till September 30.
The GT Council meeting in Lucknow starting on Friday is likely to take up the issue of tax evasions by restaurants and online food delivery operators such as Zomato and Swiggy and these firms may have to pay GST on services supplied by them.
As per the estimates of the fitment committee of the GST Council, Rs 2,000 crore in 2019-20 and 2020-21 were evaded by these firms and the panel recommended food aggregators be classified as e-commerce operators and pay GST on behalf of the restaurants concerned.
The fitment panel suggested that the changes come into effect from January 1, 2022, and food delivery aggregators be allowed to make suitable changes in their software.
The other key issues that the GST Council will take up would be related to compliance and may be taken up notifying a common comprehensive e-portal gst.gov.in for registration, paying tax, and filing returns.
Apart from this, the GST Council is expected to consider Sikkim’s proposal of 1 per cent cess on intra-state supplies of pharmaceuticals for two years.
Many states are reeling under extreme financial constraints and are stretched beyond their limits and are hence pitching for an extension by another five years, thus extending the compensation cess for states beyond 2022 is something on the cards, and something concrete may come up in this regard. The states and the Centre had opted for back-to-back loans to borrow funds to meet the compensation requirement.
In addition, the Group of Ministers (GoM) has recommended the states to independently explore the proposal of 10 paise per unit of electricity consumption or sale. Also, the GST Council meeting will help in facilitating the procedure for Aadhaar authentication of existing GST users.
Besides, the GST Council is likely to send out a clarification on the interest levied on wrongful/ineligible ITC claims.
The meeting will be attended by Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary and the ministers nominated as members of the GST Council on behalf of all the states. At the meeting, senior officers of Government of India and all states concerned will also participate for the cooperation of the members of the GST Council.
UP Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna said on Wednesday that the venue of the GST Council meeting would be Taj Hotel and the proceedings would start at 11 am and important points related to GST would be discussed in detail.
Khanna said that a preparatory meeting of senior officers of the Government of India and all states would be held on Thursday at 11am at the same venue.
Besides Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary, Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Main, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Raj Kishore Prasad, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Bhai Patel, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joy Kumar Singh and Tripura Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Verma will participate at the GST Council meeting.
Apart from these, Arunachal Pradesh's Minister of Finance Buggana Ranjendranath, Assam's Finance Minister Ajanta Niyog, Goa's Transport, Minister Mauvin Godinho, Himachal Pradesh Industries Minister Vikram Singh, Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajveer Rai Bhatnagar, Jharkhand Minister of Agriculture Badal Patralekh will also be present.
Also, Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal, Madhya Pradesh Commercial Tax and Finance Minister Jagdish Deora, Odisha Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Puducherry Public Works Department Minister Lakshminarayanan, Rajasthan Technical Education Minister Subhash Garg, Sikkim Industries Minister BS Pant, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr Palanivel Thigarajan, Telangana Finance Minister Harish Rao, Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Subodh Uniyal and Revenue Secretary, Government of India and Secretary to the GST Council Tarun Bajaj and others will attend the meeting.