Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday strongly defended the government’s handling of inflation, saying that the GST regime had not put a burden on families in India. Addressing MPs at the Parliament on the day, Sitharaman compared current prices to those existing six months before the UPA exited power while trying to prove her point. During a debate at the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, she also cleared the air on what attracts GST and what does not.
The finance minister clarified doubts on the GST rule on certain items, as she said there is no GST on chequebooks for bank customers, thereby trying to debunk “misinformation” over issues related to the imposition of the levy on various products and services. Also, there is no GST on crematorium, funeral, burial, or mortuary services, the minister said and explained the Goods and Service Tax has been levied on the construction of new crematoriums. Sitharaman further informed that there was no GST on ICU beds at hospitals.
Clarification Regarding GST on Cheque Books and Cash Withdrawal
A GST has been levied on the purchase of printed cheque books by banks from printers, Nirmala Sitharaman said said adding there is no tax on cheque books used by ordinary bank customers. She further added that no tax has been levied either on cash withdrawals from bank accounts.
“I would like to say there is no GST on withdrawing of cash from a bank,” Sitharaman, replying to a short discussion on price rise in the Rajya Sabha. “I want you to kindly take into cognizance that as regards the consumer or the bank client who takes the money, withdraws the money, there is no charge on him,” Sitharaman said. She also informed the MPs about the number of free cash withdrawals allowed by banks from ATMs.
Sitharaman Clarifies Regarding GST on Hospital Beds and Crematoriums
As regards contentions on GST being levied on crematoriums, the minister said made it clear that there is no such levy on crematorium, funeral, burial, or mortuary services. “The GST Council is accused of having levied charges on the crematorium. You are going to bury your dead, you are being charge…No,” the minister said. She said the GST is only applicable on the construction of new crematoriums. “So let’s please not be led by misinformation,” the finance minister added.
A GST has been levied only on hospital rooms whose daily rent is over Rs 5,000 and not on hospital beds or ICU, she said.
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. “More I listen to issues related to GST, I have a concern that probably the right information is not reaching. And as a result, there’s quite a lot of misconception and I would today attempt to clear some of these misconceptions,” the minister said.
(With PTI inputs)
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