New Delhi, Jan 18: Ahead of Budget 2018, the Goods and Services Tax Council on Thursday slashed the rates on 49 items. The revised GST rates will be applicable from January 25. Addressing the reporters, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that discussion over simplifying GST return process was also held during the meeting. Also Read - GST Collections in Oct May Cross Rs 1 Lakh Crore Mark For First Time in FY21

“We discussed the simplification of return filing process in the meeting. Nandan Nilekani gave a detailed presentation on simplifying return filing process,” Jaitley said. [Also read: Diesel Price Continues to Rise to New Record High, Petrol Moves Closer to Rs 80 Per Litre in Mumbai Ahead of GST Meet] Also Read - ITR: Income Tax Return Filing Deadline For FY 2019-20 Extended To Dec 31, Check Details

When asked whether petrol, diesel will be brought under GST, Jaitley said the issue is likely to be discussed in the next meeting. “Today it was not discussed but its possible it will be discussed in the next meeting,” he said. Also Read - Late Arun Jaitley's Son Rohan Files Nomination For DDCA President's Post

Among other things, the GST Council also reviewed the preparedness of GST Network (GSTN) in handling the return filing process as well as for implementing the e-way bill system with effect from 1 February. [Also read: Ahead of Budget 2018, GST Council May Lower Tax on 70-80 Items]

Under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rolled out from July last year, inter-state road transport of goods beyond 10 km, with a value of Rs50,000 and above, will mandatorily require e-way bill from 1 February.

GSTN has launched an initial trial run for e-way bill mechanism in which 10 states have joined. Others are expected to follow suit

Earlier, Prakash Pant, Uttrakhand’s finance minister who is also a member of GST Council, said the body has decided to reduce tax rates on 29 items to zero percent. Pant added that the decision on tax rates on petroleum products still remains pending.

Talking to reporters after the GST meeting, Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant said that tax rates on some agriculture products and some goods under the 12% and 18% were cut, while 29 handicraft products were brought under the 0% tax bracket. “The Fitment Committee has approved relaxation on 29 handicrafts to 0%,” Pant added.

The council has also not taken any decision on the simplification GST forms and clubbing them together into one form. Small traders have demanded clubbing together of GSTR-1, 2 and 3 forms into one form. NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be presenting its last full-fledged budget on February 1.