The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday chaired the 46th meeting of the Central Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.

Hindustan Times reported that this convention attains special significance as it comes days ahead of Sitharaman presenting the much-anticipated Union Budget 2022-23 on February 1, for which she has been holding a series of pre-budget consultations with stakeholders.

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In an official statement, Union ministers of state in the finance department – Pankaj Chaudhary and Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad – are both present at the GST Council meeting during the day. It is also being attended by finance ministers of all states and Union territories, besides senior government officials.

In a tweet, the finance ministry on Thursday read, “FM Smt @nsitharaman will chair the 46th meeting of the GST Council in New Delhi, tomorrow. The meeting will be attended by MoS for Finance @mppchaudharyand @DrBhagwatKarad, besides Finance Ministers of States and UTs and Senior officers from Union Government and States.”

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Speaking to news agency ANI, Bikram Singh, Industry Minister, Himachal Pradesh on GST Council meeting in Delhi said, “GST Council has decided to defer the hike in GST rate on textiles (from 5% to 12%). The Council will review this matter in its next meeting in February 2022.”

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Currently, GST is a four-tier slab structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. Essential items are either exempted or taxed at the lowest slab, while luxury and demerit items attract the highest slab. On the top of the highest slab, a cess is levied on luxury and demerit goods.

Earlier, West Bengal’s former finance minister Amit Mitra had urged the Union finance minister to roll back a proposed hike in textile from 5 per cent to 12 per cent saying this would lead to closure of around one lakh textile units and 15 lakh job losses.

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Telangana Industries Minister K T Rama Rao has also urged the Centre to withdraw its proposed plan to increase GST rates.