Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the GST Council meeting on June 22. This will be the first meeting of the Council after the General Election and after October 7 last year.

“The 53rd meeting of the GST Council will be held on June 22, 2024, at New Delhi,” the GST Council said in a social media post on X. Rule says that the Council should meet once every three months. However, because of the Parliament election and some of the State Assembly elections, the meeting could not take place. Though the agenda for the meeting has yet to be prepared, it is believed that the meeting will have a long list of items. Also, just before the formal council meeting, Sitharaman may have a pre-budget consultation with the states and UTs.

One of the key issues to be watched would be a review of 28 per cent GST on online gaming, casinos and horse racing as decided last year. In its meeting dated July 11 last year, the Council recommended that actionable claims supplied in casino, horse racing, and online gaming are leviable to a GST rate of 28 per cent and recommended to carry out amendments in the law to remove any ambiguity. Despite protests from some States, in the subsequent meeting, it was decided to continue with an earlier recommendation.

Later, the law was amended, and then there was a spurt in the issuance of show-cause notices. Though the government said that amendments in law are clarificatory in nature and has always maintained that the 28 per cent rate is applicable from July 1, 2017, online gaming companies alleged that the amendment in law is retrospective and, accordingly, show-cause notices have been issued.

The second issue to watch is the development of rate rejig. Though a Group of Ministers under the convenorship of Uttar Pradesh’s Finance Minister Suresh Khanna has yet to finalise the recommendations on rate rationalisation, some indication is expected on this issue. Also, the GoM itself needs to be restructured as one of its past members, Vijay Kumar Sinha, is no longer handling the Finance portfolio in Bihar.

Another issue to watch is the correction of the inverted duty structure (IDS) for various sectors, such as textiles and fertiliser. In fact, the correction for the textile sector has been put in abeyance after much political opposition. Meanwhile, some relief to the fertiliser companies is also expected, as recommended by the issuance of a circular for releasing refunds as a result of the inverted duty structure and subsidy.

Commenting on the likely agenda for next meeting, MS Mani, Partner with Deloitte India said: “A preliminary effort to include low impact petroleum products such as natural gas within the GST ambit would be highly beneficial to business. The stability established in GST collections together with the fact that GST changes are outside the Union Budget proposals should provide an impetus to the GST Council in addressing various issues that need to be addressed.”

According to Rajat Bose, Partner with Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, there is a need to address key industry issues like the taxation of online gaming and the promised review of the valuation rules introduced in October 2023. Abhishek Jain, Partner with KPMG in India, feels the taxability of ESOPs, corporate guarantee taxability, and various rate-related clarifications are also anticipated to be discussed due to recent litigations.  “Another aspect that most businesses are looking forward to is the new regulations on ISD and its implementation date,” he said.