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GST Council approves easier return filing system, defers decision on sugar cess

By Deepika

The 27th meeting of the GST Council has approved that the GSTN will be converted into a government holding. The council also unveiled a new simplified return that would require a taxpayer to file only one return every month and set a period of six months for the transition to take place.

GST council meet underway

Addressing a press conference after the council meet, finance minister Arun Jaitley, said that the govt will acquire the 51% stake held by private entities and subsequently the central and the state governments will hold a 50% stake each in the entity.

Jaitley had earlier this month asked Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia to examine the possibility of converting GSTN into a majority government company or a 100 per cent government company. GSTN provides the IT backbone for the new indirect tax regime.

It will take about six month for GSTN to prepare for it so for that period the current arrangement of GSTR3B and GSTR 1 will continue. This will be the first phase of transition where the current system will continue for the next six months," said Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

Currently, five private financial institutions -- HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, NSE Strategic Investment Co and LIC Housing Finance Ltd -- hold 51 per cent stake in GSTN, which was incorporated on March 28, 2013, in the erstwhile UPA regime.

The remaining 49 per cent stake is with the Centre and States.

GST Council today deferred a decision on levying a cess on sugar and referred the issue of incentivising digital payments to a group of state finance ministers.

Jaitley said while most states were in favour of giving a 2 per cent incentive if all payments are paid digitally or through cheques, some wanted a small negative list and so the issue will be referred to a five-member group of state finance ministers.

"Sugarcane farmers are in deep distress. A separate group of 5 ministers within 2 weeks will make a recommendation to meet contingency of this kind when the cost of a commodity is higher than its selling price. Committee will be announced with in next 2 days" Jaitley said.

est Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said some states were not in favour of such a levy.

The meeting comes at a time when Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections achieved its record high by exceeding Rs 1 lakh crore milestone in April.

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