In its first physical meeting in two years, the GST Council on Friday effected several long-pending tweaks in tax rates including an increase in the GST levied on footwear costing less than ₹1,000 as well as readymade garments and fabrics to 12% from 5%.
The new rates on these products, a decision on which had been deferred by the Council over the past year owing to the pandemic’s impact on households, will come into effect from January 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The Council approved a special composition scheme for brick kilns with a turnover threshold of ₹20 lakh, from April 1, 2022. Bricks would attract GST at the rate of 6% without input tax credits under the scheme, or 12% with input credits.
While this will please States like Uttar Pradesh that had sought a special scheme for brick kilns, a decision on extending such a scheme for other evasion-prone sectors like pan masala, gutkha and sand mining was put off.
The Council also decided to extend the concessional tax rates granted for COVID-19 medicines like Amphotericin B and Remdesivir till December 31, but similar sops offered by the Council at its last meeting in June for equipment like oxygen concentrators will expire on September 30.
The GST rate on seven more drugs useful for COVID-19 patients has been slashed till December 31 to 5% from 12%, including Itolizumab, Posaconazole and Favipiravir. The GST rate on Keytruda medicine for treatment of cancer has been reduced from 12% to 5%.
Life-saving drugs Zolgensma and Viltepso used in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, particularly for children, has been exempted from GST when imported for personal use. These medicines cost about ₹16 crore, Ms. Sitharaman said.
Food delivery tax shift:
The Council also decided to make food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato liable to collect and remit the taxes on food orders, as opposed to the current system where restaurants providing the food remit the tax.
Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj stressed this did not constitute a new or extra tax, just the tax that was payable by restaurants would now be paid by aggregators. Some restaurants were avoiding paying the GST even though it was billed to customers.
“The decision to make food aggregators pay tax on supplies made by restaurants from January 1, 2022, seems to have been done based on empirical data of under reporting by restaurants, despite having collected tax on supplies of food to customers,” said Mahesh Jaising, Partner, Deloitte India.
“The impact on the end consumer is expected to be neutral where the restaurant is a registered one. For those supplies from unregistered, there could be a 5% GST going forward,” he added.
Aircraft on lease:
The GST Council has exempted Integrated GST levied on import of aircraft on lease basis. This will help the aviation industry avoid double taxation, the Finance Minister said, and will also be granted for aircraft lessors who are located in Special Economic Zones.
Goods supplied at Indo-Bangladesh border haats have also been exempted from GST.