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GST Council meet today: Covid relief, bringing oil and gas indirect tax regime on agenda

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New Delhi, Sep 17: The GST Council will meet in Lucknow on Friday to take decisions on issues related to duty revision that were put on the back burner in earlier meetings to focus on the Covid relief measures amid rising cases during the second wave of the pandemic.

The meeting, however, is expected to announce a few more Covid relief measures particularly on compliance matters.

It will also announce a few measures to correct the inverted duty while discussing the compensation cess dues arising in 2021-22.

Two other important items, including lowering of GST rates for two-wheelers and bringing natural gas into the indirect tax fold may also be included in the agenda for discussion.

“Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman will chair the 45th GST Council meeting at 11 AM in Lucknow today. The meeting will be attended by MOS Shri @mppchaudhary besides Finance Ministers of States & UTs and Senior officers from Union Government & States,” the Ministry of Finance said in a tweet.

The GST Council has already met twice this year when the panel of finance ministers discussed GST compensation and the borrowing formula offered by the Centre towards compensating states for GST shortfall while also announcing a series of duty relief and easing of compliance measures towards Covid relief.

The 45th meeting of the council is expected to again discuss the compensation issue for the current year, but sources said it may also take a few steps to correct inverted duty structure without pursuing any increase in the GST rates or move towards converging GST to three rate structure.

Sources also said that the council at the meeting may also take up two other important items, including lowering of GST rates for two-wheelers and bringing natural gas into the indirect tax fold.

A top source in the finance ministry said that inverted duty correction, GST cut on two-wheelers and inclusion of natural gas into GST fold are on the agenda and hopefully the council will offer some solution that is in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Correction of inverted duty structure, especially in sectors such as fertilizer, steel utelsils, solar modules, tractors, tyres, electrical transformers, pharma, textile, fabric, railway locomotives among other goods is required.

Inverted duty refers to tax rates on inputs being higher than those levied on finished products. This results in higher input credit claims by goods besides several administrative and compliance issues.

Currently, while duty on imported tyres is 10 per cent, its inputs i.e. rubber attracts 20 per cent duty. Similarly, solar modules do not attract any duty while its components attract 5-10 per cent duty.

Similarly, the council may also consider lowering the GST rate of 28 per cent on two-wheelers to give a boost to its sales affected during the pandemic.

The Council has in principle agreed to include five petroleum products under GST, but has so far deferred its actual inclusion into the indirect as states fear a big loss of revenue. But now, the government is considering bringing natural gas under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to begin with as it would be difficult to bring the entire oil and gas sector immediately under it.

Sources said that natural gas may be included under a three-tier GST structure where rates would vary depending on the usage. So, while piped natural gas (PNG) for homes may be kept at a lower rate of 5 per cent, commercial piped gas may attract the median 18 per cent GST rate and automobile fuel CNG may be kept in the highest bracket of 28 per cent.

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World Banks says agriculture and labour reforms will boost medium-term growth in India

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United Nations: The World Bank has marked India as the second-fastest growing major economy in the world which is expected to grow by 8.3 per cent in the present financial year. The World Bank’s Regional Economic Update suggests that after the “deadly second wave” of COVID-19 in India “the pace of vaccination, which is increasing, will determine economic prospects this year and beyond.”

“The trajectory of the pandemic will cloud the outlook in the near term until herd immunity is achieved,” the report cautioned. India’ gross domestic product (GDP) which shrank by 7.3 per cent (that is, a minus 7.3 per cent) under the onslaught of the pandemic last fiscal year is expected to record 8.3 per cent growth this fiscal year, which will moderate to 7.5 per cent next year and 6.5 per cent in 2023-24. These Updates were issued ahead of the World Bank’s annual meeting next week,

The COVID-19 pandemic contracted not only India’s economy but also the global economy in fiscal year 2020-21 despite well-crafted fiscal and monetary policy support in India. However, growth recovered in India in the second half of the last fiscal year driven primarily by investment and supported by unlocking’ of the economy and targeted fiscal, monetary and regulatory measures. Manufacturing and construction growth recovered steadily.

Although significantly more lives were lost during the second wave of the epidemic this year in India, compared to the first wave in 2020, “economic disruption was limited since restrictions were localised,” with the GDP growing by 20.1 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year compared to the first quarter of 2020-21. It attributed the spurt to “a significant base effect” (that is, coming off a very big fall in the compared quarter), “strong export growth and limited damage to domestic demand.”

The Bank’s Update said that successful implementation of agriculture and labour reforms would boost medium-term growth while cautioning that weakened household and firm balance sheets may constrain it.

The Production-Linked Incentives (PLIs) scheme to boost manufacturing, and a planned increase in public investment, should support domestic demand. The extent of recovery during the current fiscal year “will depend on how quickly household incomes recover and activity in the informal sector and smaller firms normalises,” the report says.

Among the risks included, worsening of financial sector stress, higher-than-expected inflation constraining monetary-policy support, and a slowdown in vaccination. The Indian government has taken steps to strengthen social safety nets and ease structural supply constraints through agricultural and labour reforms deal with the inequality. It said that the government continued investing in health programmes “have started to address the weaknesses in health infrastructure and social safety nets (especially in the urban areas and the informal sector) exposed by the pandemic.

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Government clarifies that Air India employees to be retained for a year

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New Delhi: After the sale of Air India to Tata Sons, the future of its employees was a big concern. As per the deal, all the existing employees of Air India will have to be retained for one year after the privatisation.

The government of India on October 8, 2021 has made it clear by setting a precedent for all public sector undertakings (PSU). Tatas have won the bid to acquire the debt-ridden national career Air India offering Rs 18,000 crore for acquiring 100 per cent shareholding. Tatas beat SpiceJet promoter to bag the deal.

Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), said that Tatas’ bid of Rs 18,000 crore comprises taking over of Rs 15,300 crore of debt and paying the rest in cash. Both bidders had quoted above the reserve price. Pandey said that transaction was planned to be closed by December. A group of ministers comprising Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has cleared the winning bid for Air India on October 4.

This marks the return of Air India to the Tatas. Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata founded the airline in 1932. It was called Tata Airlines then. In 1946, the aviation division of Tata Sons was listed as Air India and in 1948, Air India International was launched with flights to Europe. The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest.

In 1953, Air India was nationalised. The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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Air India goes to Tata Sons, Ratan Tata tweets, Welcome Back!

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New Delhi: Finally, Air India has gone to Tata Group which emerged the highest bidder. This was a much-awaited deal for the Government of India which wanted to sell this national career from a very long time. Welcome back, Air India, tweets Ratan Tata on Tata Sons winning the bid for Air India.
An SPV of Tata Sons – the holding company of conglomerate – has emerged as successful bidder, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) — the government department responsible for privatisation, said.

The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. In 1953, Air India was nationalised. The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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