A seven-member panel formed under Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi will meet next week to deliberate on the proposal to levy cess to help aid case of natural calamities or disasters. Last month, on the demand by flood-hit Kerala for a disaster cess to help the state financially, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council concluded that there was a provision to make such an accommodation.
The GST Council then formed a panel to examine the modalities for revenue mobilisation by levying an additional tax under the GST. News agency PTI reported that the seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) will meet on October 15. The panel is likely to submit its report by October 31.
Under Article 279A(4)(f) of the Constitution, the GST Council can levy a special tax in the wake of any disaster. Kerala had asked for either an all-India cess on some select luxury/sin goods or a cess on just SGST. The GoM will be examining various aspects of the “unprecedented” move to aid the state, which recently suffered worst disaster in a century due to non-stop rainfall.
Speaking after the GST meeting on late last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the council will have to decide on several factors before including calamity cess into the indirect tax regime. From what kind of disaster will it cover to who will bear the tax burden, these questions are likely to be discussed in the GoM meeting.
Legal expert N Mathivanan recently told FE Online that the GST Council should not shy away from levying such cess for the short-term. “If additional requirements are to be mobilised for a national cause, then the GST Council should not shy away from the idea of an additional levy for a limited period only,” he said.