Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday strongly defended the government’s handling of inflation, saying the GST regime has not burdened households in India. Addressing MPs in Parliament that day, Sitharaman tried to prove his point by comparing the current prices with those existing six months before the UPA left power. During a debate in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, he also cleared the air about what GST attracts and what it doesn’t.
The finance minister expressed doubts about the GST rules on certain items, as he said there is no GST on checkbooks for bank customers, thereby trying to stop “misinformation” on issues related to levy of duty on various goods and services. Also, there is no GST on cremation, funeral, burial or cremation services, the minister said and explained that GST is levied on the construction of new crematoriums. Sitharaman also informed that there is no GST on ICU beds in hospitals.
Clarification on GST on check books and cash withdrawals
While a GST has been levied on the purchase of check books printed by banks from printers, Nirmala Sitharaman said there is no tax on check books used by ordinary bank customers. He also added that no tax was levied on cash withdrawals from bank accounts.
“I want to say there is no GST on cash withdrawals from a bank,” Sitharaman, in response to a brief discussion on the rate hike in the Rajya Sabha. “I want you to please consider that there is no charge on the customer or the bank client who takes the money, withdraws the money,” Sitharaman said. He informed the MPs about the number of free cash withdrawals allowed by banks from ATMs.
Sitharaman clarified about GST on hospital beds and cremation
On the controversy over levying GST on cremation, the minister clarified that there is no such levy on cremation, funeral, burial or cremation services. “The GST Council has been accused of levying charges on cremation. You are going to bury your dead, you are being charged… No,” said the minister. He said that GST is applicable only on construction of new crematoriums. “So let’s please not be guided by wrong information,” the finance minister added.
A GST is levied only on hospital rooms with a daily rent of more than Rs 5,000 and not on hospital beds or ICUs, he said.
The ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament has witnessed several hurdles by the opposition following the imposition of GST on several pre-packed and labeled essential items. “The more I hear about GST-related issues, I have a concern that perhaps the right information is not reaching out. And as a result, there are many misconceptions and I will try to dispel some of these misconceptions today,” the minister said.
(with PTI input)
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