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The decision taken by GST Council will have a revenue implication of Rs 20,000 crore annually.

In a relief to consumers and several industries, the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council on Friday decided to reduce tax rate on a wide range of items to 18 percent from current 28 percent. As a result of the decision, number of items in the 28 percent tax slab has come down from 227 to around 50.

According to reports, the council has also lowered GST rates of some items in the 18 and 12 percent bracket as well.

“There were 227 items in the 28% slab. The fitment committee had recommended that it should be pruned to 62 items. But the GST Council has further pruned to more items,” Bihar finance minister Sushil Modi told reporters in the sidelines of the ongoing council meet.

“Now all types of chewing gum, chocolates, preparation for women cosmetics, shaving and after-shave items, deodorants, washing powder detergent and granite and marble have been put in the 18% category,” Modi added.

The items that have been retained in the 28% category mostly include sin goods, like paan masala and cigar, and luxury goods such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners. Paints and cement have also been retained in the 28% tax bracket, Sushil Modi said, according to media reports.

The decision taken by GST Council will have a revenue implication of Rs 20,000 crore annually.

Following the GST meet, Congress vice-president slammed BJP over GST and laid down suggestions for its improvement.

Earlier, opposition leaders had speculated changes in GST rates saying that the Narendra Modi government was likely to bring in several changes in GST as it was panic-stricken ahead of elections in Gujarat.

“Expect a shower of changes in GST rates from GST Council meeting today. Panic-stricken govt has no option but to concede demands for change,” former finance minister and senior congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted.

“Thanks to Gujarat elections, government forced to heed advice of Opposition and experts on flaws in implementation of GST,” he added.

Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac had also echoed similar views.

The BJP, however, denied that the GST rates had been brought down with Gujarat elections in mind.

“All decisions have been taken unanimously by the GST Council. Elections have nothing to do with decisions to be taken by the Council,” Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu said.

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