President signs GST Constitution Amendment Bill into law

President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday signed the Constitution Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST) into law, paving way for the roll out of the goods and services tax that would replace a whole lot of indirect taxes from 1 April 2017.

Rashtrapati Bhavan

The enactment of the GST amendment bill paves way for setting up of a GST council that will decide the tax rate, cess and surcharges. With the President's assent for the landmark legislation, the focus now shifts to formation of the GST Council and building consensus on rate ceiling.

Seventeen states have so far ratified the Constitution (122 amendment) Bill, ensuring consent of 50 per cent of states for the bill to become law.

The states that have ratified the GST amendment bill so far include Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Nagaland, Maharashtra, Haryana, Sikkim, Mizoram, Telangana, Goa, Odisha and Rajasthan.

Commenting on states' ratification of the bill, revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the government is ahead of schedule for implementation of GST.

"Instead of 30 days kept for this, it is achieved in 23 days," he had said in a tweet.

The GST is a single indirect tax which will subsume most of the central and state taxes such as Value Added Tax (VAT), excise duty, service tax, central sales tax, additional customs duty and special additional duty of customs.

The Parliament had on 8 August passed the bill which was then circulated to state governments seeking ratification.

The central government is now expected to go ahead with the setting up of GST Council and a GST Secretariat to support the working of the council. The law provides that GST Council has to be set up within 60 days

The action will now shift to the winter session of Parliament when the government is likely to introduce the all important Central GST Bill.

A decision on the GST council needs concurrence of at least 20 states and union territories as against 16 states for the Constitution amendment. The government is expected to move soon to seek cabinet approval for setting up a GST Council.

The central and state governments are working overtime and consulting stakeholders for drafting the Central GST, State GST and Integrated GST laws, which are to be passed in the winter session of Parliament.

The centre is looking to implement dual GST from 1 April 2017.