J&K assembly adopts GST resolution

The Jammu and Kashmir assembly today adopted a GST resolution implementing the goods and services tax, amidst protests by the NC and the Congress. J&K becomes the last state to usher in the new indirect tax regime.

State finance minister Haseeb Drabu moved the resolution, which was adopted by a voice vote even as the National Conference, the Congress, the CPI(M) and an independent MLA protested against implementing the new indirect tax regime in t the state.

With this, all the states have implemented the goods and services tax.

The resolution adopted through a presidential order also calls on the centre to safeguard the special status and exclusive taxation powers of the state.

Drabu said Article 370 of the constitution is not compromised in any way through this presidential order.

The resolution was adopted by the state in its present form after two days of discussions.

Earlier, replying to the debate, Drabu said the resolution calls upon the centre to implement the GST in the state while incorporating safeguards for protecting its special status and exclusive taxation powers.

"We will appeal, argue, debate and discuss with the Government of India, as a matter of principle, section 5 of the J-K constitution, which gives us exclusive powers of taxation, shall be protected," he read from the draft of the resolution.

"The GSTN council will not be a way to subvert the process and enough safeguards will be built as regards the state of Jammu and Kashmir empowering the representatives of Jammu and Kashmir and bringing in under the ambit of Article 370," Drabu said.

He said the business activity in the state had dropped to almost 50 per cent due to non-implementation of the GST after the new regime was rolled out in the rest of the country on 1 July, causing losses to the state exchequer.

Giving comparative data, the finance minister said while 2,000 truckloads of goods were imported on 4 July last year, only 1,000 truckloads were imported on the day this year.

He said export of goods from the state has also dropped from 300 on this day last year to 150 this year, a 50 per cent decline in trade.

On the revenue earned by the state, Drabu said it had dropped from Rs82 crore on 4 July last year to Rs40 crore yesterday.

"This shows that business and trade in Jammu and Kashmir cannot function without the GST," he said.

On the opposition charges of compromising state's interests, the finance minister said there was no compulsion on the government to bring a resolution in the assembly on the GST but it was done as part of "restoration of a process".

"If the GST overwrites Article 370 (of the Indian Constitution) or section 5 (of the J-K Constitution) I will not come back to this House," Drabu said.