Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday made a strong defense of her handling of inflation as she compared current prices with what they were six months before the UPA was out of power, saying the GST system has helped families But the tax burden has not increased. Responding to the debate on price hike in the Rajya Sabha, he said that the GST tax on food items like rice, wheat flour and curd had been agreed by all states and that one or the other day in 22 Such a levy already existed on essential commodities. States
Clarifying the misgivings about levying GST tax on some of the most debated items, the minister said no tax was levied on cash withdrawals from bank accounts or on crematoriums or hospital beds and ICUs. Is. GST is levied on purchase of check books printed by banks from printers, he said, adding that there is no tax on check books used by ordinary bank customers.
Similarly, only the construction of new crematoriums and the equipment used in it have been levied GST. He said that no tax is levied on funeral, cremation or cremation. GST is levied only on hospital rooms with a daily rent of more than Rs 5,000 and not on hospital beds or ICUs.
With the opposition under fire over the rise in prices of daily essentials, Seetha Raman compared the current prices of tomatoes, onions and potatoes with the prevailing price in November 2013, saying prices were stable. Attacking the then Congress-led UPA government, he said prices had seen a triple-digit hike, with onion prices crossing the Rs 100 per kg mark.
He did not mention the prices that went up when the UPA was out of power in May 2014, or onion prices crossing Rs 100 per kg in November 2019 and again in October 2020. “GST has not increased the burden on families. Pre-GST (taxation rates) on some items were much higher,” he said. “No one is talking about inflation and no one is denying it. We will also look at the numbers and we will also look at the ground realities. We are not going to run away.” The government and the RBI are taking “substantial steps” to keep the inflation rate at 7 percent.
Ideally, it should be below the 6 percent band. “No one is denying it.” Based on reports on the ground, the government has adopted a targeted approach to tackle inflation. “And through a targeted approach, we are reaching out to the segments that need this support the most. Of course, yes, you can do a lot. No one denies it. But that doesn’t mean we’re not saying, we’re not going to do anything. He said that the tax on tooth powder has come down from 17 percent to 12 percent after the implementation of GST in 2017 and tax on hair oil, toothpaste and soap has come down from 29.3 percent to 18 percent, on sugar. From 6 percent to 5 percent. sweet mix from 7% to 5%, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and TVs up to 32 inches from 31.3% to 18%, LPG stoves from 21% to 18%, LED lamps from 15% to 12% and kerosene 8% to 5% on pressure lanterns. Responding to criticism of record high LPG prices, he said the government was giving a subsidy of Rs 200 per cylinder for 12 refills in a year to the poor getting connections under the Ujola scheme.
The subsidy will bring the price down to Rs 853 per 14.2 kg cylinder – a rate that opposition MPs said was too high. Seetha Raman had an angry exchange with Ranjith Ranjan of the Congress who tried to counter him by reading out the RTI reply that a large proportion of the over 9 crore Ujola beneficiaries had either got an LP. Have not bought g refill or only 1 or 2.
The point is that a subsidy of Rs 200 for 12 cylinders in a year is something that an Ujwala beneficiary will never be able to use. The minister said she was responding to every point raised but could not respond in the way a member of parliament would but admitted that the subsidy may not be sufficient.
He said that LPG prices are not in the hands of the government. On GST tax on wheat, rice, pulses, curd, cheese, lassi and other daily essentials, Seetha Raman said the 5% tax is only on pre-packaged and labeled items and not those sold loosely. There is no impact on commodities and therefore on the poor. He said that no food for the poor is taxed.
The levy was imposed after all states agreed to it at a meeting of the GST Council, which has representation from all states and union territories, in Chandigarh in June. “Not one person (in the GST Council) spoke against it,” he said. Before the introduction of GST in July 2017, every state levied tax on some food items such as cereals, pulses, curd, lassi and buttermilk, he said while reading out some of the taxing states.
TMC leader Derek O’Brien wanted to raise a point of order when he said that West Bengal had taxed cheese in the pre-GST era. However, when chairperson Bhuvneshwar Kalita did not allow them, the TMC MLAs walked out in protest. The minister said that the Indian economy is better than its peers. “Compared to the current situation in many of our peer groups and compared to the situation in many advanced economies, the Indian economy is certainly much better.” On the government’s opposition to only billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, he said the government has done everything keeping the poor in mind and the names “completely politicize the debate”. What is dragged as
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