Cabinet approves formation of National Anti-profiteering Authority under GST

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said 'If any consumer feels that the benefit of tax rate cut is not being passed on then he can complaint to the National Anti Profiteering Authority.'

According to the rules, the NAA has the authority to order the supplier to reduce prices or return the undue benefit availed by it along with benefits in the Consumer Welfare Fund.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the setting up of the anti-profiteering authority under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in a bid to ensure that the benefit of lower rates is passed on to consumers.

Some experts believe that the GST rate cuts are not enough and that they come with a lot of impleenting challenges as to how to pass the benefit.

Kirit Somaiya, BJP MP from Mumbai-North-East has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley about how some restaurants and eateries have increased the base prices, resulting in the bill total remaining the same despite a reduction in the tax rate.

The authority will have a sunset date of two years from the date on which the chairman assumes charge. The chairman and the four members of the authority should be less than 62 years. Only 50 items now attract tax rate of 28 per cent. He said it would create imbalance in the industry, as hotels operating restaurants on their premises would claim input tax credit as they were authorized by the government.

Last week, the GST Council in its 23rd meeting in Guwahati, Assam, brought down GST rates of 177 items from 28 percent slab to the 18 percent slab.

The anti-profiteering framework under the new indirect tax regime consists of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority at the top, a standing committee, screening committees in every state and Directorate General of Safeguards in the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC).

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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.

The Minister said, in case the consumers do not get the benefit of reduction in prices, they can apply for the relief to the screening committee to the particular state.

However, in case the incident of profiteering relates to an item of mass consumption with "All India ramification", the application may be directly made to the Standing Committee. Companies would expect the GST Council to issue detailed guidelines soon, he added.

The scheme will increase the availability of court halls and residential accommodations for judges/judicial officers of district and subordinate courts across India.

The cabinet also lifted control on the export of pulses. The decision comes in the wake of the fact that in 2016-17, pulses production had touched 23 million tonnes.

The CCEA also approved the continuation of "Anganwadi Services, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, Child Protection Services and National Crèche Scheme" (April 2017 to November 2018) with an outlay of over Rs41,000 crore.

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