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Tax rate may be set at 16%- Pranab
June, 11th 2009

The unified goods and service tax rate may be pegged at 16%. The empowered committee of state finance ministers on Wednesday examined the possible rate structure for the new tax regime that is set to replace all indirect taxes at the central and state level from April 1, 2010.

An official who attended the meeting said the deliberations were held on the rate structure, though a final view will be taken by August.

State finance ministers are scheduled to meet Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday for discussions on the budget and new GST regime.

Empowered committee chairman and West Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta said: We had a fairly detailed discussion with the ministers on the structure of GST. We are setting a target date of August-end for tying the loose ends.

Mr Dasgupta, however, declined to comment on the proposed rate. Currently, the cenvat rate is 8%, service tax rate 10% and value added tax rate 12.5%, taking the total incidence of indirect taxes to 30.5%. Another state finance ministry official who attended the meeting said states and the Centre will have to work out a rate structure that would be revenue-neutral and not cause any loss to the exchequer.

But some BJP-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh have expressed reservation on the implementation of the GST regime from 2010.

Mr Dasgupta, however, exuded confidence that introduction of GST would meet the deadline of April 1, 2010. He said the committee would be meeting frequently now to finalise the nitty-gritty of the GST structure. After finalising the structure, discussions will be held with the trading community, industry, agricultural sector and public.
We want a rapid and widespread discussion before launching GST from April 1, 2010, Mr Dasgupta said.

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