Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Finance Bill 2023 with 64 official amendments, including the one that seeks withdrawal of long-term tax benefits on certain categories of debt mutual funds and another for setting up the GST Appellate Tribunal.
The Finance Bill that gives effect to tax proposals for fiscal year starting April 1 was passed without a discussion amidst ruckus by opposition members demanding a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) probe into the allegations against the Adani group of companies.
While moving the bill for passage and consideration, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the setting up of a committee under finance secretary to look into pension issues of government employees. She also said the Reserve Bank of India will look into the payments made through credit cards for foreign tours which escape tax at source.
Sitharaman introduced 64 official amendments to the Finance Bill which was tabled in Parliament on February 1 along with the Budget proposals. The Budget was passed on Thursday. At that time too, no discussion could take place because of the protest.
As per the amendments proposed in the Finance Bill 2023,Lok Sabha on Friday, benches of the GST Appellate Tribunal would be set up in every state while there will be a principal bench in Delhi which will hear appeals related to 'place of supply'.
Even after more than five years of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the appellate tribunal has not been set up. As a result, unresolved legal matters under GST have accumulated. Nangia Andersen India's Tanushree Roy, Director- Indirect Tax, said establishment of the appellate tribunal would result in lower burden on high courts, Supreme Court and at the same time, would also provide taxpayers the much needed reprieve.
"This is certainly a welcome and a positive move, ending the industry's long wait for establishment of the GST Appellate Tribunal," Roy said. EY Tax Partner Saurabh Agarwal said the amendment made in Section 109 of the CGST Act would help the government in setting up of the GST tribunal in a time-bound manner.
It would also enable the principal bench to take certain important decisions such as distribution of cases amongst the state benches, referring of case to other members if there is a difference in views within the same bench or otherwise. These would help in expediting the decision-making process, Agarwal added.
"Further, on the vexed issue with respect to place of supply, the power to hear the appeal should now vest with the principal bench which would likely aid in better decision making," Agarwal said. Abhishek Jain, Partner, Indirect Tax at KPMG in India, said it will bring to an end the long wait by the industry and help streamline pending litigations.
Last month, the 49th GST Council meeting accepted the report of a panel of state ministers on appellate tribunals with some modifications. Currently, taxpayers aggrieved with ruling of tax authorities are required to move high courts. The resolution process takes longer time as high courts are already burdened with backlog of cases and do not have a specialised bench to deal with GST cases. Setting up of state and national level benches would pave the way for faster dispute resolution.
Following amendments, 20 new sections have been added to the Bill. The Finance Bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha. While the House was taking up the Bill, several opposition members were in the well raising slogans and holding placards demanding a probe by a JPC into the allegations against Adani group of companies following a report by a US based short-seller. As sloganeering continued, the chair adjourned the proceedings of the House till Monday.