The next GST Council meeting likely to be held on 28th May 2021

The 43rd GST Council meeting shall be held on 28th May 2021, as per a Union FM’s office statement. Recently, there has been an increasing uproar, especially from the opposition parties, that the GST Council meeting has not been held for the past seven months. 

The GST Council previously met on 5th October 2020 to conclude the State borrowings to meet the revenue shortfall. However, that meeting was extended up to 12th October 2020. 

The upcoming GST Council meeting will also be held via video conference at 11 a.m. The Union FM Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman shall chair it along with the Minister of State for Finance Shri Anurag Thakur. Besides, it will be attended by the Finance Ministers of States & UTs, including Senior officers from the Union Government and States.

Shri Amit Mitra, Finance Minister of West Bengal, wrote to the Union FM seeking the conduct of the GST Council meeting at the earliest. The address has those matters such as a shortfall in compensation to States to be discussed.   

He mentioned that the compensation shortfall due to the second COVID-19 wave is projected to be much higher than the Rs.1.56 trillion reported last year. He further suggested the need to rework the shortfall calculation and borrowing requirement. The state’s compensation situation, he said, is “alarming” and “deeply distressing”.

States were promised compensation for five years after introducing the GST in July 2017 to make up for any revenue shortfall due to the loss of indirect tax autonomy. Automobiles, cigarettes, and aerated beverages are among the products in the 28% GST bracket that are subject to a compensation cess.

In a letter to his Union counterpart, Punjab FM Manpreet Singh Badal further stated that GST exemption on hand sanitisers, face masks, gloves, PPE Kits, temperature scanners, oximeters, ventilators, and other items should be discussed. Moreover, the GST Council must discuss relief for MSMEs in the aviation, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, commercial realty, and retail sectors.

Union FM has already stated that exempting vaccines from GST would harm consumers because manufacturers would pass on cost increases due to the lack of an input tax credit (ITC). There is also a push to exclude oxygen concentrators from the IGST (Integrated Goods and Service Tax). The Finance Ministry has not indicated in this regard as well.

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