Cabinet approves creation of GST Council and its secretariat

Finance Minister Arun JaitleyThe union cabinet today approved the setting up of a GST Council, which will decide the rate of tax under the new goods and services tax (GST) regime, which is likely to kick in from 1 April 2017.

The GST Council will be headed by union minister of finance and will have the minister of state in charge of revenue and state finance ministers as members.

The union cabinet also today approved the setting up of GST secretariat, following the ratification of the GST amendment bill by state governments and signing it into law by the President.

The cabinet approved the creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi and the appointment of the secretary (revenue) as the ex-officio secretary to the GST Council.

The chairperson of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) will be included as a permanent invitee (non-voting) member to all proceedings of the GST Council.

The cabinet also approved the creation of the post of an additional secretary to the GST Council in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of additional secretary to the Government of India), and four posts of commissioner in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of joint secretary to the Government of India).

The cabinet also decided to provide for adequate funds for meeting the recurring and non-recurring expenses of the GST Council Secretariat, the entire cost for which will be borne by the central government. The GST Council Secretariat will be manned by officers taken on deputation from both the central and state governments.

The steps required in the direction of implementation of GST are being taken ahead of the schedule so far.

The finance minister has also decided to call the first meeting of the GST Council on 22 and 23 September 2016 in New Delhi.

The GST Council will be a joint forum of the centre and the states and will have the union minister of finance as chairperson with the union minister of state in charge of revenue and state minister of finance or taxation or any other minister nominated by each state government  as members,

The council will make recommendations to the union and the states on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern place of supply, threshold limits, GST rates, including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters, special provisions for certain states etc.