Notwithstanding pressures from industry bodies, experts and even the Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to bring fuel products such as diesel and petrol under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary, Union Finance Ministry, indicated, in an interview with The Statesman, that it would take at least six months before having any discussion on this proposal.

Adhia said there have been much reservations from various quarters over the demand to
bring fuel products under the GST ambit. “They (states) want to feel more comfortable after seeing (their) revenue trend…If the states want petroleum products under GST, we will be happy to discuss it. But they may not like to take it up immediately. So, the issue can be discussed when trends of revenue stabilises, which will happen only after six months,” he said.

When asked whether there would be any further “rationalisation” of GST rates, Adhia
said tax rate changes should not be carried out in a piecemeal way and that there was a need for looking at the entire matter in an integrated manner.

He also referred to the point that the GST Council has approved an approach paper for the Rates Fitment Committee to begin a rationalisation exercise on changing rates across all product categories. “The Committee will re-look at all the rates,” he said.

However, on whether there was any scope for merging GST slabs to make them fewer in number, the Revenue Secretary made it clear that “tax slabs will remain the same for now”. “Certainly the slabs will not be changed. This is not the time to change the tax slabs, it will be discussed in future. But, certainly it will not happen before one year,” he said.

A large section of businesses had complained about monthly filing of their returns on the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) ~ the IT backbone of this new indirect tax regime ~ which had witnessed many glitches, thereby making filing returns and uploading invoices a cumbersome process. With the GST Council in its recent 22nd meeting relaxing the norms to quarterly filing, Adhia said based on businesses’ feedback the government is willing to rationalise this process even further.