The 23rd GST Council Meeting was held on Friday, 10 November 2017, and the council has decided to hand the taxpayers of the country a big bonanza. The GST on about 200 items was slashed; 178 of these were moved from the top slab attracting 28 percent tax to the lower tax bracket that attracts 18 percent. This leaves only 50 (of the original list of 228 items) in the top tax bracket now. Consumers will soon see the benefit of this decision as manufacturers will be compelled to cut down the prices of these products, said the government. This round of tax cut will cost the government INR 20,000 crore as loss of annual revenue.
GST Rate Slash On 200 Items
Some of the important items that have been moved from the 28 percent slab to the 18 percent GST slab include –
- Wire, cables, insulators, plugs, switches, electrical boards and panels, lights and fixtures, fans and pumps, batteries
- Trunks, suitcases, travelling bags and handbags
- Shampoos, hair cream, after-shave, makeup, deodorants, perfumes, cosmetics, hair dyes, beauty preparations
- Marble, granite, plaster, and slate articles, ceramic tiles
- Furniture and furnishing, mattress and pillows, baths, sinks, sanitary ware, showers, wallpaper
- Wall clocks, wrist watches, goggles, apparel and leather accessories, artificial fur
- Non-electric home appliances
- Printers and cartridges
- Detergents and washing creams
- Multi-functional printers, cartridges
- Cocoa preparations and chocolates
- Office equipment, TV and radio broadcasting equipment, fire extinguishers, gym equipment, musical instruments, sound recording apparatus
- Escalators, tractors, electronic weights
Goods moved to the 12 percent tax bracket include –
- Electric kitchen appliances such as wet grinders
- Condensed milk, pasta, curry paste, mayonnaise and salad dressings, condiments and seasoning,
- Diabetic food
- Refined sugar and sugar cubes
- Knitted or crocheted hats
- Spectacles frames
- Furniture made of bamboo or cane, just and cotton bags
Services moved to the 5 percent tax bracket include –
- Eating out at restaurants becomes cheaper (except at 5-star hotel restaurants)
A number of eatables such as frozen fish, sweet potatoes, and dried vegetables have been moved to the 0 percent tax slab.
Election Ploy Says Opposition
Congress leader and former Finance Minister tweeted, “Thank you Gujarat. Your elections did what Parliament and common sense could not do.” Chidambaram’s sarcastic tweet was not the only voice of criticism. Opposition leaders jeered at the move calling it a calculated political move aimed at appeasing the voters ahead of the Gujarat state assembly polls.
Women’s Hygiene Products GST Untouched
Despite the mighty slash in GST rate on many products, the GST Council and the central government has come under much criticism for not having reduced the tax on women’s hygiene products such as sanitary napkins. Sanitary pads are not luxury items and their availability has a huge impact on women’s health and even issues like women’s education. These had initially been placed in the 12 percent tax slab and this has remained unchanged in the recent revision exercise. Sindoor and lac bangles, on the other hand, attract no GST at all and are in the zero percent tax bracket. Hair creams, cosmetic and toiletry items, shaving creams, make up and beauty preparations have all attracted a tax cut and now fall in the 18 percent tax slab instead of 28 percent. Men’s condoms attract 0 percent tax. The GST Council has, however, defended itself on the grounds that the raw material used to produce sanitary napkins attracts 18 percent GST . Reducing GST on the finished product will add to the producers’ costs. Besides, the GST on these products is lower than the 13.5 percent tax that they attracted in the previous tax regime.
Eating Out – Cheaper or Costlier?
Under the new tax restructuring undertaken by the GST Council on Friday, the GST on eating out will now come down from 18 percent and 12 percent (AC and non-AC restaurants) to 5 percent. Eating in restaurants of 5-star hotels remains the only exception. This may not, however, translate into any real benefit for the common man.
This is because the council has decided to revoke input tax credit. Input tax credit is a feature of the new GST regime which allows service providers and manufacturers to claim a rebate or a discount on the tax payable. This deduction is equal to the amount of tax that that they have previously paid for goods or raw material purchased. Restaurant owners’ associations have said that menu prices may have to be increased to maintain profitability of their businesses.