The government did away with restrictions on the export of all kinds of pulses to help farmers get better prices for their produce.
New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the setting up of a National Anti-Profiteering Authority under the GST Council, which will ensure that consumers get the benefit of reduced prices under the new indirect tax regime.
This newspaper had first reported last month that amid growing concerns over rising complaints of profiteering from all parts of the country after the implementation of GST, the Centre was planning to set up a national anti-profiteering authority.
In another significant step, the Centre did away with restrictions on the export of all kinds of pulses to help farmers get better prices for their produce. The decision comes in the wake of the fact that in 2016-17, pulses production had touched 23 million tonnes.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that now there were only 50 items which attracted the highest tax of 28 per cent under the Goods and Services Tax regime, and the rates on many items had been cut to five per cent.
“The National Anti-Profiteering Authority is an assurance to the consumers of India. If any consumer feels the benefit of a tax rate cut is not being passed on, then he can complaint to the authority,” Mr Prasad said at a press conference after the Union Cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet’s approval paves the way for the immediate establishment of the authority, which is mandated to ensure that the benefits of GST rate cuts is passed on to consumers.
The GST Council, chaired by the Union finance minister and comprising all state finance ministers, had last week slashed the tax rates of over 200 items in the GST regime as well as lowered tax rates on AC and non-AC restaurants to five per cent.
The Council had earlier approved the setting up of a five-member National Anti-Profiteering Authority to enable consumers to file complaints in case the tax cuts are not passed on.
A five-member committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha and comprising revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, CBEC chairman Vanaja Sarna and the chief secretaries of two states, has been entrusted with finalising the chairman and members of the authority.
As per the structure of the anti-profiteering mechanism in the GST regime, complaints of a local nature will be first sent to the state-level “screening committee”, while those at the national level will be marked for the “standing committee”.
The authority will have the power to cancel the registration of any entity or business if it fails to pass on to consumers the benefit of lower taxes under the GST regime, but it will probably be the last step against any violator.
On Thursday, the government did away with restrictions on the export of all kinds of pulses to help farmers get better prices for their produce. On the decision removing all restrictions on the export of all pulses, Mr Prasad said this will ensure farmers have greater choice in marketing their produce.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also empowered the committee headed by the food and public distribution secretary to review the export and import policy on pulses and consider measures like quantitative restrictions, prior registration and changes in import duties depending on domestic production and demand, local and international prices and global trade volumes.
The export of pulses will provide an alternative market for surplus production of pulses, he said, adding that it will also help the nation and its exporters regain markets.