Written by Prakriti Panwar, a first-year undergraduate student
First, what is GST?
GST stands for Goods and Services tax. It is applicable on goods (products that you and me buy – anything from toothbrushes to food), which are sold India for consumption. GST is a tax that is included in the final amount paid by the consumer (user, like you) to the seller. The seller then passes this on to the government. That’s how it works.
GST is said to be an indirect tax and it “simplifies taxation” by “reducing several different taxes into one straightforward system”.
What’s the GST council
The Goods and Services Tax Council was formed to implement (roll out) the GST after it was officially passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in August 2016.
The GST Council is supposed to be a “joint forum of the center and the states,” consisting of the Union Finance Minister as the Chairperson, the Union Minister of State as a member and the Minister in-charge of taxation or finance or any other minister who is nominated by the state government, also as a member.
The GST council is officially described, by the government, as a constitutional body that decides issues related to GST
The council’s functions
Some of the issues that fall under the GST Council are threshold limits, GST rates, price floors (meaning the lower limit ), exemptions and exceptions for certain goods and services etc.
Most decisions of the council take place in its meetings. About 44 meetings of the GST council have taken place since its inception (the beginning) and the council has taken important decisions regarding rules for conduct of business in GST Council, timeline for implementation of GST, compensating states for loss of revenue due to GST, and other logistics regarding payment, return, refund, invoice and valuation as well.
The 44th meeting was presided by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and was held on 12th June 2021.
During the pandemic, the council decided to exempt certain Covid relief goods from GST, reduced rates for specific Covid medicines and Black Fungus medicines as well.