No new levy on items consumed by poor: FM Sitharaman



New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said GST Council has not imposed any new levy on essential items consumed by the poor, though such products were taxed in one form or the other by almost all states in the pre-GST era.
The minister, replying to a short-duration discussion on price rise in the Rajya Sabha, also said GST has not increased the burden on families.
She also said the government has contained prices of tomato, onion, and potato, while comparing rates with those prevailing in November 2013.

No GST on chequebooks for customers
New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said there is no GST on chequebooks for bank customers, as she tried to clear “misinformation” over issues related to the imposition of the levy on various products and services.
Also, there is no GST on crematorium, funeral, burial, or mortuary services, the minister said and explained the Goods and Service Tax has been levied on the construction of new crematoriums.
“More I listen to issues related to GST, I have a concern that probably the right information is not reaching. And as a result, there’s quite a lot of misconception and I would today attempt to clear some of these
misconceptions,” the minister said.
She specifically explained the GST issues around bank chequebooks and cash withdrawals. On the opposition’s claims of burdening people by imposing GST on cheque books, she said the levy is in relation to purchase of cheque books by bans from printers, not for the public. “I want you to kindly take into cognizance that as regards the consumer or the bank client who takes the money, withdraws the money, there is no charge on him,” Sitharaman said. She also informed the MPs about the number of free cash withdrawals allowed by banks from ATMs.

Almost every state, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Kerala, imposed levies on items like pulses, flour, curd, paneer, and buttermilk before the GST regime kicked in on July 1, 2017.
The GST Council has not imposed any new tax on essential items, the minister said while replying to a short-duration debate on price rise in the Rajya Sabha.

“…every state had one or the other tax on all these items,” she said and cited taxes on items like pulses, flour, buttermilk, and paneer.
The ongoing monsoon session of Parliament has witnessed several disruptions by the opposition after GST was imposed on several pre-packed and labelled essential items.
The minister said all states at the last GST Council meeting held at Chandigarh had agreed to the proposal to levy 5 per cent GST on pre-packed, labelled food items.
Not one person (state minister) spoke against the GST during the meeting, she added.
Sitharaman stressed that taxes have not been levied on food items consumed by the poor, as the GST has not been imposed on items that are sold loose.
While the minister was referring to a tax on a food item in West Bengal in the pre-GST era, TMC party leader Derek O’Brien tried to raise a point of order and later his party staged a walkout.
Sitharaman also clarified there is no GST on crematoriums, but the tax is only on the construction of a new crematorium.
Also, there is no GST on hospital beds or ICUs, but only on rent of Rs 5,000 per day in a hospital.