New Delhi: The GST Council will not announce any “beneficial decisions” like rate cuts or extensions of time period for any schemes or compliance to GST rules at its meeting scheduled on March 19. Sources said that the Council does not want that its decisions are seen as clashing with the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that came into force post the announcement of the dates of the Lok Sabha election last Sunday.
With this, the Council has also received permission from the Election Commission to hold its next meeting – the 34th – on the scheduled date. The Council will desist from announcing any beneficial decisions including rate cuts and extension of time period for any compliance of rules of GST till elections are over to abide with the Model Code of Conduct.
“We have received Election Commission of India’s approval to hold the March 19th meeting on discussion and announcement of various issues including implementation of lower GST rates for the real estate sector as the decisions were already announced in the last meeting when the MCC was not in place,” sources said.
At its 33rd meeting, the Council had slashed tax rates for under-construction flats to 5 per cent and affordable homes to 1 per cent, effective April 1. As far as further lowering of rates are concerned under GST with an eye on polls, after the Council’s 31st meeting in December where it was announced that rates were being rationalised on a number of products and services, there are only 28 items left now in top 28 per cent tax bracket.
Among the items consumed/used by the common man, only cement continues to remain, along with luxury and ‘sin’ goods, in the top bracket. This major tax rationalisation, ahead of the 2019 general elections, had come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to bring 99 per cent of the goods under the 18 per cent or lower GST slab.
But all the rate cuts have had their impact on GST collections, which in February dropped to Rs 97,247 crore from Rs 1.02 lakh crore in the previous month. The government has lowered the GST collection target for the current fiscal to Rs 11.47 lakh crore in the Revised Estimates, from Rs 13.71 lakh crore budgeted initially.