GST rate on polluting items may be higher: FM Arun Jaitley ahead of BRICS summit

GST rate on polluting items may be higher: FM Arun Jaitley ahead of BRICS summit

Saturday October 15, 2016,

4 min Read

Within days of India signing the Paris Climate Treaty, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said tax on environment unfriendly products will be "distinct" from others in the forthcoming GST regime so as to boost funds for climate financing.

Two-day ahead of BRICS Summit beginning in Goa, Jaitley said,

The indirect tax regime that we are planning, the rate of taxation on such products which are going to be environmentally unfriendly would be distinct from the normal rate of taxation. This is one of the proposals being discussed.
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The government is in the process of finalising rates for the Goods and Services Tax.

The country has taxed coal and petroleum products in the past as well, Jaitley said, adding that

resources have to be mobilised from all sources for climate financing so that sustainable development goals can be achieved in a much more concrete manner.

He said large commitment from the developed countries to provide funding for climate change financing is not sufficient to meet the sustainable development goals and that the multilateral agencies also need to chip in.

"Even now there is a debate as to nature of the USD 100 billion (that the developed world has committed for the developing nations), to fund technology transfers we do hope there is no double counting as far as the fund is concerned," the minister added.

The minister said, last year New Delhi and Beijing raised the issue of USD 100 billion because more than the value of the money, it was also about the trust.

Though a report indicated that most of the money was already paid there are various forms in which money is spent like healthcare, which can help environment, as the money is counted towards healthcare and also environment protection, the minister said.

Speaking on the issue, Reserve Bank Governor Urjit Patel raised concerns about countries undermining objectives like climate finance.

"The USD 100-billion number has been talked about for the past 10 years and there is very little pressure from the domestic constituencies in the advanced economy countries, including the media. This is part of a grand bargain and if you keep on undermining this, I think people will walk away from the table at some point," Patel said.

Patel also said there is a need for cooperation among the BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa -- to take forward the climate change agenda.

After refusing to join the global climate alliance under the Paris climate deal, the government on October 2 had ratified the treaty. The move is expected to give momentum to the implementation of measures at the international level to control global warming.

New Delhi's ratification will further underline its responsive leadership, which is committed to global cause of environment. The pact will come into force after it has been ratified by at least 55 countries which account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

So far, 61 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.79 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.

The ratification will take the number of cumulative level of emission of countries that have ratified the agreement so far to 51.89 per cent as its total emissions is 4.1 per cent of the global emissions. The Paris Agreement was adopted by 185 nations on December 12, 2015, and India signed it in New York on April 22 this year. A total of 191 countries have signed the Paris Agreement so far.

China and the US - responsible for around 40 per cent of the world's carbon emissions - have already jointly ratified the Paris climate change deal that aims to significantly reduce global emissions, giving hope that the landmark accord may come into effect by the end of this year.