In one of the biggest decisions which will directly impact the finances of a common man, the GST Council on Saturday reduced the rates of 33 items. After the meeting, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said that "(Many) items have come down from 18% to 12% and 5% as they are common man's consumption goods."
He also said that the original demand by the Congress that all goods should come down to 18% and below has been agreed by the Government of India. However, the 34 luxury items will not be part of the current changes. Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant said that "22 goods have come down from 28%. Goods like TV, auto parts, computers etc included."
The decision comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his government wanted to ensure that "99 per cent items attract sub-18 per cent GST slab."
PM Modi had indicated that the 28 per cent slab of GST would only be restricted to a few select items, such as luxury goods. However, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra had blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for undermining the constitutional authority of the GST Council.
"The statement of the Prime Minister made just before the GST Council meeting undermines the constitutional authority of the GST Council as it pre-empts the decision-making authority of the council," Mitra had alleged.
The GST Council has been constituted under Article 279A of the Constitution and it can alone which has been constitutionally empowered to decide on the GST rate for goods and services, Mitra had said.
The neutrality if the council in the decision making thus stands severely eroded and will be highly detrimental to the future functioning of the GST Council, he had said.
"Is there any hidden agenda behind the prime minister giving directive to the finance ministers," he had asked.
Mitra said that the West Bengal government had been demanding a reduction in the GST rates on essential items from 28 per cent to 18 per cent and from 18 per cent to 12 per cent.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to hold a press conference on GST Council's big decision at 4 pm today.