J&K not to table GST bill in current Legislature session

14 January 2017

The PDP-BJP government in Jammu & Kashmir will not table the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in the current budget session of the legislature and may call a special session, on the pattern of other states of the country, to the pass the legislation. The state government has set up a high-powered committee to formulate its own law and submit it to the legislature to ensure that its special powers remain intact.

''The Budget session will conclude by the first week of February. It may not be possible for the government to introduce the bill in the budget session of the legislature as the high-powered committee is yet to draft the legislation,'' said the state government's Economic Survey report which was tabled in both Houses in the current session.

The report said the government may call a special session as was being done by some state governments to pass the GST Bill. ''The GST will replace all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the central and state governments. The GST in the state may miss the previous deadline of 1 April 2017, set by the central government for its implementation across the country as the GST Council, which met in the union capital a few days back had failed to reach a consensus on the issue of dual control. It was expected to meet again next week in New Delhi to work out a consensus,'' the report suggested.

In his budget speech on 11 January, state finance minister Haseeb Drabu had said the proposed GST law was not applicable to J&K. ''We will have to work out in what form it can be applied given the fact that under our General Sales Tax Act, 1962, we tax services unlike other states,'' he had said.

The GST Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 3 August 2016, and the amendment bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 6 August last year. The assent from the President was received on 8 September 2016, and stood notified in a government gazette.

At least 23 states have already ratified the bill while eight states are yet to ratify it. These eight states are J&K, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, UP, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has asked all states, including Jammu and Kashmir, which haven't passed the legislation so far, to approve it at the earliest to clear the decks for implementation of one tax structure across the country.

''The J&K government has decided to implement the GST in the state and set up a high-level committee to be headed by the Financial Commissioner, Planning, Development and Monitoring Department, for drafting the legislation, which would be tabled before the government, and after clearance, in the legislature. The panel has been asked to draft the legislation within next three months,'' the report said.

The state government has deliberated upon the issue and came to the conclusion that it should implement the GST but with riders so that the state's constitutional position and special taxation powers are not affected.

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