Centre favours additional cess under GST to help flood-hit Kerala

PTI New Delhi | Updated on September 21, 2018 Published on September 21, 2018

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed additional cess on select commodities under GST to raise funds to help Kerala tide over the damage caused due to the floods, a state minister said on Friday. The proposal for levy of cess is expected to come up for discussion at the GST Council meeting on September 28.

“Kerala welcomes the suggestion of the FM for a national-level cess on selected commodities for a specified period to help such states. GST Council to discuss,” Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said in a tweet.

Isaac was of the view that GST should be made flexible to take care of “unforeseen urgent demand for resources as in the case natural calamities”. The issue regarding additional cess for funding rehabilitation activities in flood-hit Kerala was discussed on Thursday, during a meeting Isaac had with Jaitley.

Isaac has also pressed for additional funds from the Centre to rebuild the state, which is estimated to have suffered a loss of Rs 20,000 crore (as per a preliminary estimate) due to the floods.

The initial proposal of the Kerala government that it be allowed to raise funds by imposing cess on sale of goods and services under GST by the state government did not find favour with the Finance Minister as it could complicate the whole structure of the new tax regime -- which is one nation, one tax.

The government may have to amend the GST law to permit imposition of a new cess in the new indirect tax regime. Rolled out from July 1, 2017, Goods and Services Tax (GST) has subsumed all cess, surcharge and local levies.

The GST currently has a four-slab rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. Besides, luxury items, sin and demerit goods attract a cess on top of the highest tax rate.

According to industry sources, levying of new cess may not be an easy option as a case in this regard is pending in the Supreme Court. The government had earlier toyed with the idea of levying a sugar cess to help the industry earlier this year, but abandoned the move after the announcement of increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Published on September 21, 2018

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