New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday chaired the 46th meeting of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council in New Delhi. The "physical" meeting, which was held from 11 am at Vigyan Bhawan, was attended by Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary, Dr Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad and Finance Ministers of states and union territories (UTs).

During the meeting, which is an extension of pre-budget meetings with states and UTs that was held on Thursday, the Union Finance Minister will hold discussions on rate rationalisation, correction in duty inversion in certain goods and textile hike. 

It is expected that Sitharaman will hold a press conference at around 3 pm on Friday on the outcome of the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on rate rationalisation will submit its report to the Council on Friday. The panel has reviewed items under an inverted duty structure to help minimise refund payout. Besides, the Fitment committee, comprising tax officers from states and the Centre, has made many "sweeping" recommendations to the GoM regarding slab and rate changes and taking items out of the exemption list.

Currently, GST is a four-tier slab structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. Essential items are either exempted or taxed at the lowest slab, while luxury and demerit items attract the highest slab. On the top of the highest slab, a cess is levied on luxury and demerit goods. There have been demands for merging the 12 and 18 per cent slabs as also taking out certain items from the exempt category to balance the impact of slab rationalisation on revenue.

Sitharaman holds pre-budget meetings with states, UTs

On Thursday, Sitharaman had met Finance Ministers of states and UTs as part of the pre-budget consultations. During the meeting, the states and UTs urged the Centre to extend GST compensation cess window to states, which is expiring in June 2022, for another five years.

They also asked the Centre to release outstanding funds as their economy has been impacted badly due to COVDI-19 pandemic.

"Most of the participants thanked the Union Finance Minister for financially supporting their States/Union Territories during the worst months of pandemic, by enhancing borrowing limits, providing back to back loans to States, and through Special assistance for capital expenditure," said Union Finance Ministry in a statement.

"The participants also gave numerous suggestions to the Union Finance Minister for inclusion in the Budget Speech. The Finance Minister thanked the participants for their inputs and suggestions towards Union Budget 2022-23 and assured them to examine each of the proposals."

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma