Chennai: Stating he was not averse to having one GST rate uniformly across the country, Union urban development, information and broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said it is impossible to have one rate for all commodities ranging from BMW cars to a whisky bottle or beedi roll.
Referring to the demand from certain quarters for imposing one GST rate across all categories, Mr Venkaiah said this was not possible in a country like India where there are economic disparities, where income levels are different, and where poverty is around 25 – 30 percent. “Can you have one rate? Some people are saying why not one rate. For example, if you decide on 18 per cent, then this rate will apply for BMW, whisky bottle and beedi packet. Can anybody accept this?” he asked.
Though one rate could be ideal, he was not opposed to it “but, this could be after long travel; initially you cannot,” he said while speaking at a conference on MODI (Making of Developed India) and GST, held under the joint auspices of ICAI, South Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association, World Tamil Economic Foundation and Arma Medical Foundation, here on Sunday.
The powers on fixing the rate were given to the GST Council, which approved a five-rate structure - zero percent for some products, 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent for various products. Nearly 80 percent of the goods fell in the 12 and 18 per cent slab, he explained
Allaying apprehensions of the public, the Minister said the GST was a revolutionary reform and assured that several concerns, including that of the Tamil film, textile and beedi industries would be addressed. “The US President Donald Trump acknowledged it and told our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘you are taking the country on the right path with regard to the economy’,” Mr Venkaiah stated.
Explaining further, he said, the 18th meeting of the GST Council had lowered the tax rate on fertilisers, revising the rate arrived upon at its earlier meeting.
“GST is a very, very simple legislation and the Prime Minister doesn’t want any discretion to be given to anybody, whether an officer or Minister. He wants everything to be transparent, everybody to be accountable. If you do discretion, then you will be hearing stories like 2G, 3G and or some other G. Some G will come,” he said, alluding to the 2G Spectrum allocation scam....