Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council has not increased tax on any item, and no new tax has been brought in the meeting held today.

The GST Council issued clarifications related to taxation on various objects, while at the same time announcing the decriminalisation of certain sections of the GST law.

On the rate front, the GST Council has reduced the GST on ethyl alcohol supplied to refineries for blending with motor spirit (petrol) to 5% compared with 18% at present. The Council also reduced GST on the husk of pulses including chilka and concentrates including chuni/churi, khanda to zero per cent from 5% now.

The agenda on the GoM report on casinos, race courses and online gaming, and setting up of GST Tribunals could not be taken in today’s meeting.

Addressing a press conference after the 48th meeting of the Council, Sitharaman said, “In this Council meeting, there has not been any tax increase on any item. Clarifications have been issued only in cases where the ambiguity of interpretation remains.” The finance minister added that one such area was SUVs, where the clarification has been given that a higher compensation cess of 22% is applicable to motor vehicles fulfilling all four conditions, namely, it is popularly known as SUV, has engine capacity exceeding 1,500 cc, length exceeding 4,000 mm and a ground clearance of 170 mm or above.

The GST Council has recommended raising the minimum threshold of tax amount for launching prosecution under GST from ₹1 crore to ₹2 crore, except for the offence of issuance of invoices without the supply of goods or services or both. The other recommendations include reducing the compounding amount from the present range of 50% to 150% of tax amount to the range of 25% to 100% and decriminalising certain offences of obstruction or preventing any officer in the discharge of his duties, deliberate tempering of material evidence and failure to supply the information.

“GST Council decriminalises three types of offences, including obstructing an officer from discharging his duties. The threshold of launching prosecution has also been doubled to ₹2 crore. This change should help on the ease of doing business front,” said, Mahesh Jaising, partner, leader – indirect tax, Deloitte India.

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