New method of filing GST returns in 6 months, panel to examine sugar cess

New Delhi: The GST Council on Friday decided to roll out in six months a new method of filing monthly returns and to take over ownership of the GST Network (GSTN), even as it deferred a decision on imposing a sugar cess and allowing an incentive for digital payments.

Briefing reporters here following the 27th meeting of the GST Council, the Chairman and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Council had decided to set up two separate groups of five Finance Ministers of states to give recommendations both on the imposition of a cess on sugar as well as a 2 per cent incentive for making payments digitally.

“The GST Council discussed the change in ownership structure of GSTN. As per the original structure of GSTN, 49 per cent is held by the government and balance 51 per cent by other entities,” Jaitley said.

“I had made a suggestion that this shareholding of 51 per cent should be taken over by the government and divided equally between the states and the Centre.

“Eventually, the central government should hold 50 per cent and states will hold 50 per cent collectively. The collective share of states will be pro-rata divided among them per their GST ratios,” he added.

Noting that sugarcane farmers are in deep distress due to rise in costs, Jaitley said the Council decided to constitute a group of five ministers within two days to make a recommendation on ways to meet contingency arising when the cost of a commodity is higher than its selling price. The committee will submit its report within two weeks keeping in view the urgency of the matter, Jaitley said.

“The committee will examine how these contingencies to be addressed by the GST regime. Its constitution will be announced in the next two days,” he said.

A separate group of five ministers from states will be constituted in two days to recommend a 2 per cent concession, subject to a ceiling of Rs 100 per transaction, to consumers if they pay through digital modes. This report will be submitted before the next GST Council meeting.

“The issue before the council as whether on digital payments through either the banking mode or the cheque mode or any form of digitised mode, a two percent incentive should be given to those who pay entirely through digitised mode. This would be subject to a cap of Rs 100 per voucher and would not apply to the composition dealers,” the Minister said.

The Council on Friday also approved the new simplified model of filing returns, to be implemented after six months, providing for one monthly return for all taxpayers, except composition dealers and those with nil tax liability.

“Composition dealers and dealers having nil transaction shall have facility to file quarterly return,” Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said elaborating on the new model.

He said the six-month transition phase is required to get the new software ready, during which the present system of filing GSTR 3B and GSTR 1 returns would continue, adding that taxpayers could continue to claim provisional credit in this period.