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Cabinet nod to set up GST Council

 NEW DELHI, Sept 12 - Moving on fast track to roll out GST from April 1, 2017, the Cabinet today approved setting up of all powerful GST Council, which will decide on the tax rate, exempted goods and the threshold by November 22.

The first meeting of the Council, to be chaired by Union Finance Minister, will be held on September 22 and 23.

The Council will comprise Minister of State for Finance in charge of Revenue Department and state finance ministers as members. Union Revenue Secretary will be the ex officio secretary to the Council, but will have no voting rights.

The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today “approved setting up of GST Council and setting up its Secretariat,” an official statement said.

Talking to reporters, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the government is running ahead of schedule on GST roll-out and is all geared up to meet the April 1, 2017, deadline.

“Now it is for the GST Council to thrash out all the issues within the time limit of two months. We have set a time limit of two months for discussion and final decision on all the major aspects. Now whether that’s going to be feasible, that we have to watch and see.

“So from September 22 to November 22, should be a reasonable time limit for discussing and thrashing out the major issues,” he said.

Asked if the GST rate, exemptions and threshold would be decided by the Council before November 22 for inclusion in the CGST law, Adhia said: “It should be. Yes.”

The government is planning to introduce GST legislations – Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) – in the Winter Session of Parliament in November.

Adhia said states have the flexibility to nominate either finance or taxation or any other minister to the GST Council and he has already written to the state chief secretaries in this regard.

GST, which is considered as the biggest tax reform since independence, will subsume excise and service tax, and various other local levies including VAT and octroi. – PTI

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