The number of items placed in the maximum GST slab of 28% will be slashed to 50, Bihar finance minister Sushil Modi said after a meeting of state finance ministers and officials.
"There were 227 items in the 28% slab. The fitment committee had recommended that it should be pruned to 62 items. But the GST Council has further pruned to more items. Now all types of chewing gum, chocolates, preparation for women cosmetics, shaving and after-shave items, deodrants, washing powder detergent and granite and marble. All these items have been put in the 18% category," he was reported as saying by the Economic Times.
Luxury items, like automobiles, washing machines, fridges, and sin goods - paan masala and cigar - are among the 50 items in the 28% bracket now.
"All decisions have been taken unanimously by the GST Council. Elections have nothing to do with decisions to be taken by the Council," Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu was quoted as clarifying by the Business Standard.
The decision comes amid complaints by traders and small businesses which say the new nationwide tax, which came into effect from July, has increased their tax and administrative burden.
Ahead of the GST Council of Ministers meeting, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram had tweeted, "Expect a shower of changes in GST rates from GST Council meeting today. Panic-stricken govt has no option but to concede demands for change."
He said this was being forced by Gujarat elections.
"Thanks to Gujarat elections, Government forced to heed advice of Opposition and experts on flaws in implementation of GST," Chidambaram tweeted.