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GST Slab of 28% May Become Virtual 'Hollow Shell' Soon, Says Outgoing CEA Arvind Subramanian

There are just 35 items left in the highest tax bracket, which was pruned by the GST Council over the past one year.


Updated:July 25, 2018, 8:18 PM IST
GST Slab of 28% May Become Virtual 'Hollow Shell' Soon, Says Outgoing CEA Arvind Subramanian
File photo of former CEA Arvind Subramanian.

New Delhi: Outgoing chief economic adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian on Wednesday exuded confidence that the highest slab of 28 per cent tax under GST would be “virtually a hollow shell” over the next year or so.

The all-powerful GST Council comprising state finance ministers has pruned the highest 28 per cent slab by cutting tax rates on 191 goods over the last one year, including ACs, digital cameras, video recorders, dish-washing machines and automobiles. There are just 35 items left in the highest tax bracket.

When the 28 per cent tax rate was imposed on certain items under GST, there was a political reaction against it, and the GST Council responded by “really whittling down...quite substantially” the number of products in that slab, Subramanian said in an interview to Rajya Sabha TV. “I am very confident that over the next year or so, 28 per cent hopefully will be virtually a shell hollow shell,” he said.

The CEA also said a lot of effort and time was devoted to simplifying the burden on small and medium enterprises. To a question regarding lateral entry into government, he said: “I am lateral entrant myself. So how can I argue against that?”

He stressed on the need to get talent from everywhere outside the government or outside the country as well. “You need specific expertise. I think the lateral entry is a good thing. Government needs more talent than Silicon Valley,” said Subramanian, who will leave the finance ministry on July 30.

Subramanian further said he had a wonderful working relationship with all colleagues both in the ministry and the government and “a very close working relationship with PMO”.

When asked about his future plans after leaving the ministry, Subramanian said he would go to Harvard and get back to research and writing. On contesting elections, he said, “I will be an utter failure in politics.”

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