Difficult to keep to GST rate if luxury items excluded: Jaitley.

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) In a reference to opposition to levying excise duty on jewellery, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said exempting “luxury items” from indirect tax will not help keeping the proposed GST rate in the 17-18 percent range.

“If luxury items are kept out, then it will be very difficult to keep the GST (Goods and Services Tax) rate between 17 percent and 18 percent,” Jaitley said here, inaugurating the annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Jewellers are continuing their protest strike against the one percent excise duty on non-silver jewellery introduced by the finance minister in the union budget for the current financial year.

Jaitley has earlier said an 18 percent cap on the GST rate as suggested by the Congress party would result in a flawed system as it could lower duties on a host of “sin” products and luxury items that should attract higher taxes.

Declaring that Indian industry has been fighting a “major battle for its credibility,” Jaitley referred to state-run banks’ non performing assets (NPAs), or bad loans, without naming defaulter businessman Vijay Mallya in this regard.

“Industry is fighting a major battle for its credibility and some recent events have added to that, especially on the issue of banks’ large NPAs,” he said.

“The essence of industry has to be transparency and credibility… The approach of industry leaders has to be positive and credible,” he added.

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