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GST meet kicks off in Kashmir Valley amid tight security

Dilasha Seth/Srinagar 18 May 17 | 01:39 PM

The crucial GST Council meeting is being conducted at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar on Thursday.

Heated deliberations by the goods and services tax (GST) council started on Thursday against the backdrop of the Dal Lake in Srinagar, amid a brief and unusual calm in the Kashmir Valley. The two-day meeting is expected to finalise the GST rules and discuss fitment of rates, with less than 50 days to go for the regime's rollout. This meeting will, in fact, decide whether GST will be rolled out on July 1.

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Before the meeting, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac said that he would pitch for a five per cent GST rate for gold. "Gold is a luxury item and hence should be taxed at five per cent," he said. There is likely to be a discussion on fixing the rate on gold at four per cent, as suggested by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on an earlier occasion. Currently, a value-added tax of one per cent is imposed on gold. Despite the industry demanding that GST's implementation should be deferred to September 1, Issac has expressed confidence in a July rollout. 

The meeting is being conducted at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre in the state capital amid tight security. Around 3,000 personnel, including the state police, Border Security Force, and Central Reserve Police Force, have been deployed for the high-profile meeting chaired by Union Finance & Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said that his state would introduce the GST Bill in the Assembly within the next 30 days. He added that real estate should also be a part of GST. "We are also thinking of bringing realty in the GST regime. Today's meeting is the most important one," he said.

Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia said that destination of service delivery would be discussed in the meeting. "We have raised a few concerns," he said. 

According to Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayansamy, an effort would be made to ensure that the common man is not burdened. "We will judiciously apply our mind," he said.  

The Council will discuss fitment of items under different rate slabs. It will deliberate on the report prepared by the rate and fitment committee.

GST will broadly have a four-slab structure of five per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. There will be zero-rated goods, as well as exempt items, besides an additional cess on demerit goods like tobacco, cigarettes, luxury cars and aerated drinks.

The Council, which is chaired by Jaitley and comprises state's finance ministers, is slated to finalise nine rules pertaining to composition, valuation, transition, input tax credit, invoice, payment, refund, registration and return. 

After the meeting, all ministers will attend a dinner hosted by J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

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