The government has started its media blitzkrieg to tell the common man that the upcoming GST will reduce prices of most goods. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in advertisements in leading dailies gave pictorial representations of items which are exempt from Goods and Services Tax and the ones which would attract lower tax of 5 per cent. The GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising his state counterparts, has already decided on tax rates of majority of the commodities. They have been put in slabs of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, with the exception of gold which will attract 3 per cent GST.
GST, which will subsume 16 different levies, will be rolled out from July 1. The CBEC said salt, milk, gur, egg, curd, unpacked food grain and paneer, fresh vegetables, unbranded atta, maida, besan, honey, besides education and health services have all been exempted from GST. “GST-Single tax to reduce prices of most products of mass consumption,” it said. In an interview to PTI last month, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had said that the government will launch a massive awareness campaign to educate consumers about GST so that they are not fleeced by traders in name of the new tax. “Because we have taken care to ensure that the average tax incidence on commodities does not go up…there may be some traders who will try to tell the consumers that under the changed GST rates they will have to pay more. We have to educate them,” Adhia had said.
Items like tea, sugar, coffee beans, edible oil, packed paneer, milk powder, brooms, domestic LPG and kerosene have been put in the 5 per cent bracket. “81 per cent of the items to fall in/below 18 per cent slab. Only 19 per cent of the goods will attract GST above 18 per cent,” the CBEC said. For items placed in 12 per cent slab, the CBEC listed butter, ghee, mobiles, cashew, agarbatti, umbrella, fruit juice and sausages.
Hair oil, soaps, jams, soups, ice cream, capital goods and computers will attract a 18 per cent levy.
Those placed in the 28 per cent slab are custard powder, shampoo, perfume, make up items, chewing gum, motorcycle, cement and consumer durables. The government has already said that the benefits of a reduced tax rate post GST should be passed on to consumers by way of price reduction.The GST Council has decided to set up a committee comprising central and state tax officers to act on complaints of profiteering by industry post GST.