GST Council Announces Changes To The GST Rules Aimed At Easing Burden Of Compliance On Them

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New Delhi: The goods and services tax (GST) Council announced changes to the goods and services tax (GST) rules aimed at easing the burden of compliance on them and exempted an additional 2 million such businesses from registering with the indirect tax regime. It has offered major relief to small businesses.

Analysts say this is another attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government to woo a key constituency ahead of the 2019 general election. In the past three weeks, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has tightened rules for e-commerce so as to benefit small traders and retailers; pushed through Parliament a law promising 10% reservation in government jobs and college seats for the upper castes, and also discussed sops for farmers.

The council has doubled the GST exemption threshold for businesses to Rs 40 lakh annual turnover from April 1, finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the 32nd meeting of the council. Jaitley heads the council, which counts state finance ministers as its members.

He explained that not all 2 million eligible for the exemption may avail it. “Eligibility and entitlement are one aspect. How many actually do it may not be the same because some of them still want to be the part of GST chain.”

The plan was to have a higher exemption threshold up to Rs 75 lakh, but finance ministers belonging to states ruled by the Opposition did not agree, officials with direct knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity. State finance ministers are members of the GST Council, a federal body where all decisions are taken on the basis of consensus.

In a tweet after the meeting, Assam’s finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) resisted this. “ @RahulGandhi must explain why he is against small traders,” Sarma tweeted, targeting the Congress president.

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