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Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj on Tuesday said that he is not sure if the country is ready for a single Goods and Services Tax rate and suggested that it would be better if India can first move the 5%, 12%, and 18% GST rates into two slabs. 

“Overtime, the GST rates have undergone a huge change as inversion was done away with on many goods. Currently, there are mainly three rates – 5%, 12% and 18% – which contribute nearly 83% of total GST revenue generation," the Revenue Secy has said.

Bajaj, however, stated that “even that will be complex and difficult".

The Revenue Secretary further added that a lot of work still needs to be done to prune GST-exempted items, especially in the services sector.

Exemptions still remain, a large number on the services side, Bajaj said, adding “work needs to be done to prune it".

“Large GST exemptions still remain on services. The next GST Council meetings will look at correcting inverted duty structure," Bajaj said.

At a CII interactive session, he said the effort is to remove the “rough edges" in the GST over the next two-three years.

On rationalisation of GST rates, Bajaj said a group of ministers is looking into it. “We will have to wait for some time," he said.

On representations that 5% GST on non-ICU hospital rooms above 5,000 is against affordable healthcare, the secretary said the percentage of rooms in hospitals which charge more than 5,000 is “minuscule".

“If I can spend 5,000 on a room, I can pay 250 for GST. I don’t see any reason for such a messaging that 5 per cent GST is hitting affordable healthcare," Bajaj said.

“GST (at lower rates) should emerge the main indirect tax in 5-6 years. India undergoing a structural change for the better, GST regime will be better in coming years," he adds Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj

The secretary said the 28% slab in GST contributes 16% to the gross GST revenue, while the major chunk of 65% comes from the 18% slab.

The slabs of 5% and 12% contribute 10% and 8% of the total gross GST revenue.

Under the GST, a four-rate structure that exempts or imposes a low rate of tax of 5% on essential items and a top rate of 28% on cars is levied. The other slabs of tax rates are 12% and 18%.

Besides, there is a special 3% rate for gold, jewellery and precious stones and 1.5% on cut and polished diamonds.

Also, a cess is levied on the highest tax slab of 28 per cent on luxury, sin and demerit goods. The collection from the cess goes to a separate corpus -- Compensation fund -- which is used to make up for revenue loss suffered by the state due to the rollout of GST.

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