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Commerce Ministry seeks GST exemption for leather, plantation

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Wants FinMin to lower import duty on gold in the upcoming Budget

At the meeting of the GST Council held here on Tuesday, the Ministry also made a case for lower taxation on cement and sought the lowest slab for the services sectors that earn foreign exchange such as tourism, travel, hospitality and health.

“The leather industry and the plantation sectors provide a lot of employment. These need to be encouraged. We have sought exemption from GST for them but if that is not possible, these should attract the lowest rates,” Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press meet, following the submission.

On the forthcoming Budget, Sitharaman said her Ministry had sought lowering of import duty on gold from the present 10 per cent, which has been a long-standing demand of jewellers. Indicating a possible expansion of the interest subvention scheme for exporters, the Minister said that the Finance Ministry agreed with the Commerce Ministry on the success of the scheme and wanted the momentum to be maintained.

On the cement sector, the Minister said that there were environmental issues with the industry, but it was vital for ensuring affordable housing, building public infrastructure such as roads, highways and ports and the success of the smart cities mission.

“At present, cement is one the highest taxed sectors with taxation ranging from 22 per cent to 30 per cent in different States. Following simple default setting, the sector would attract a GST of 18 per cent or more. We made a case that the tax cannot be so high given the importance of the sector in affordable housing and building infrastructure,” she said.

Sops for exporters

To ensure that working capital of exporters do not get blocked, the Commerce Ministry has asked for exemption for those who import raw material and machinery duty-free rather than compensating them with refunds at a later stage.

For Special Economic Zones, the Commerce Ministry has sought exemption from Integrated GST (IGST) imposition on movement of goods from an SEZ to another in a different State.

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