GST go-ahead: Council set up its secretariat in Delhi

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Monday gave a go-ahead to implement the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST), taking the first two steps of constituting the GST council to recommend its framework and setting up its secretariat in Delhi.

The GST council, which will now decide all matters concerning the new tax as a recommendatory body, will kick off with its first meeting here on September 22 and 23.

The council has been set up as per Article 279A of the Constitution that came into force only this Monday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told a Press conference in a briefing on Cabinet decisions.

The GST council, a joint forum of the Centre and the states, will be headed by the union finance minister, with union minister of state for revenue and the finance ministers of all the states as members. Any other minister can also be nominated by the concerned state government. The Union revenue secretary shall be the ex-officio secretary of the council while the chairperson of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), which oversees implementation of all indirect taxes, will be its permanent invitee, with no voting rights.

It is now up to the GST council to make recommendations on all issues related to the GST, like the GST rates, including the floor rates with bands, the goods and services to be subjected or exempted from it, model GST laws, principles to govern place of supply, threshold limits, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities or disasters and special provisions of certain states. All these roles are defined under Article 279A of the Constitution that was notified on Saturday.

The Cabinet also decided that the Centre will bear the entire cost of the GST council secretariat, which shall be manned by officers on deputation from both the Centre and the state governments. It also approved one post of additional secy and four  of the commissioners.

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