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'Petrol cheaper in Assam than West Bengal': CM Himanta Biswa Sarma defends hike

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Guwahati, June 6 (IANS) A day after Lok Sabha poll results were declared, the Assam government hiked taxes on petrol and diesel. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that the prices of fuel are cheaper in Assam by at least Rs 7 compared to Opposition-ruled states like West Bengal.

The Assam government has hiked VAT on petrol and diesel and as a result, petrol gets costlier by Rs 1.01 while the price of diesel has been increased by Rs 1.02 in the state since Thursday midnight.

People have expressed their displeasure at fuel stations over the hike in fuel prices. But CM Sarma defended the state government’s decision asserting that the prices are cheaper by a good margin in Assam compared to other states.

The Chief Minister said: “Before the Lok Sabha polls, we made the petrol-diesel prices cheaper by Rs 3 per litre. But due to flooding and other situations in the state, we were forced to increase the prices by only Re 1.”

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He asserted that the petrol prices are quite high in West Bengal compared to Assam.

“If anybody compares the petrol prices in Assam and Bengal, one can find that petrol and diesel are cheaper in Assam by more than 7 Rupees,” Sarma said.

–IANS

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GST Council waives interest, penalty on notices to taxpayers under Section 73

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) As part of several taxpayer-friendly decisions, the GST Council on Saturday recommended the waiving of interest and penalty in cases of tax demand notices that have been sent under Section 73, of the GST Act, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said after the meeting.

“In the case of demand notices issued for 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, interest and penalty will be waived off, if tax is paid by March 31, 2025,” Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The GST Council has also recommended that the time limit to avail input tax credit in respect of any invoice or debit note under section 16(4) of the CGST Act filed up to the 30-11-2021 for the financial years 17-18, 18-19, 19-20 and 20-21 may be deemed to be 2011 to 2021.

So for the same requisite amendment retrospectively with effect from 1 July 2017, the Finance Minister said.

In order to reduce tax litigation which is expected to benefit both taxpayers and the government, the GST council recommended a minimum limit for filing appeals of Rs 20 lakh for the appellate tribunal, Rs 1 crore for the High Court and Rs 2 crore for the Supreme Court.

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In another taxpayer-friendly measure, the GST Council has decided to introduce Form GSTR 1A to enable taxpayers to add information they have missed when filing Form GSTR 1.

The new form can also be used to correct mistakes that they have made while filing their particulars in form GSTR 1.

–IANS

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Govt rolling out pan-India biometric authentication to prevent GST fraud

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council at its 53rd meeting on Saturday decided to roll out pan-India Aadhaar-based biometric authentication to check fake invoicing used to fraudulently claim input tax credit (ITC) by unscrupulous elements, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Two pilot projects for biometric authentication have already been carried out successfully and now the facility will be rolled out nationwide in a phased manner, the Finance Minister said at a press conference.

To facilitate GST registration, Aadhaar biometric authentication will become mandatory for new registrations across the country, she added.

“This will help us to combat fraudulent input tax credit claims made through fake invoices,” FM Sitharaman said.

FM Sitharaman also said that a Group of Ministers (GoM) for reationalising GST rates has been set up, which will submit a status report in the next meeting.

Bihar Deputy CM Samrat Choudhary will chair the GoM.

FM Sitharaman said that while a lot of decisions were taken at Saturday’s meeting, not all GST issues could be included in the agenda.

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The GST Council will meet again after the Budget Session of Parliament is over to take up these issues.

The meeting is likely to be held in mid-August, she added.

–IANS

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GST Council okays uniform 12 per cent GST on milk cans, cartons, water sprinklers

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The GST Council meeting held on Saturday recommended a uniform GST rate of 12 per cent on all milk cans whether they be made of steel, iron, or aluminum, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Milk cans will be governed by a standard measurement and not by the material they are made of, in order to avoid ambiguity, the Finance Minister said.

They are called milk cans but wherever they are used, that will be the rate applicable so that no disputes arise out of it, she added.

The council also recommended a uniform GST rate of 12 per cent on all carton boxes and cases of both corrugated and non-corrugated paper or paper board.

This will in particular help the apple growers of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

A uniform 12 per cent GST has also been recommended on all types of water sprinklers including fire water sprinklers, she added.

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–IANS

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Railway services, students' hostels exempted from GST

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The GST Council meeting chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday decided to exempt services provided by Indian Railways from GST.

Addressing the media after the council meeting, the Finance Minister said the purchase of railway tickets and payments for waiting room and cloak room charges have been exempted from GST.

Similarly, no GST will be levied on services provided like battery-operated vehicles and intra-railway services.

The Council has also decided to exempt GST on charges for hostels for students that are located outside educational institutions.

The exemption will be extended to hostels run by communities as well.

However, the condition will be that the upper limit of charges will be Rs 20,000 per person per month and the student must have stayed in the hostel for a continuous period of 90 days.

The condition has been introduced to prevent hotels from taking advantage of the exemption, she added.

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The Finance Minister clarified that hostels located within education institutions are already exempt from GST.

–IANS

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Committed to making India a global skilling hub: Union Minister

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) To empower Indian nurses with global career opportunities, Union Minister of State for the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Jayant Chaudhary, on Saturday felicitated 32 healthcare professionals for successfully completing the B1 level of German language training and said, “committed to making India a global skilling hub”.

This development reaffirms the government’s commitment to making India the global hub for skilled talent and outlines the ambitious strategies under Skill India 2.0.

The training aims to equip the nurses with the necessary language skills for a successful career and livelihood in Germany.

“In Germany alone, with their aging population, there would be approximately 1.8 million job opportunities available for suitable candidates,” the minister said.

“Therefore, it’s imperative that we have the right approach to fill these positions in a focused manner, and Skill India’s International’s strong connect can fill this gap and I must congratulate every candidate as each of you is a changemaker and an ambassador of India,” he added.

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The two to three-month comprehensive residential training programme under the Skill India International initiative was imparted to all the candidates who have completed their B.Sc. Nursing or the General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) programmes.

The Minister also highlighted the successful placement of more than 58,000 skilled Indians in various countries as part of India’s mission to become a global skilling powerhouse.

“The growing skill gap in Germany, particularly in the healthcare sector, poses a significant challenge. Therefore, we felt the need to find a solution to offer, which is structured migration, which not only caters to the skill gap but also offers us the quality expected to meet the demands of the healthcare Industry,” said German Ambassador Dr. Philipp Ackermann.

All 32 candidates cleared the B1 German Language Training through TELC.

As per the ministry, all the candidates will be placed with the leading hospitals and employers, earning between 2,300 and 2,700 euros per month (over Rs 2 lakh), with B2 training included.

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After completing B2 in Germany, their salary will increase to approximately Rs 3 to 4 lakh.

–IANS

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