Highlights of Sitharaman’s defense of price rise in Rajya Sabha

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that the government is not in “denial” about the price rise, and is instead taking a “targeted approach, based on ground inputs to tackle inflation.” 

Replying to a debate on price rise in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman highlighted that the Indian economy is doing much better than some of the developed economies and that the country’s macro-economic fundamentals are strong.

Sitharaman 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.

Here are the highlights from Sitharaman’s speech in Rajya Sabha: 

  • No GST on withdrawal of cash from banks, 5+5=10 transactions per month will be totally free when cash withdrawn from ATMs. 
  • No GST on hospital bed or ICU, tax only on room with Rs 5,000 per day rent. 
  • GST only on bank purchasing cheque book from printer; no tax on customer cheques
  • No GST on crematorium; tax only on construction of new crematorium
  • The government has contained prices of tomato, onion, and potato, while comparing rates with those prevailing in November 2013.

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.

Originally published at www.dnaindia.com

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