Key GST issues not on agenda

Key GST issues not on agenda of state finance ministers’ meet

Kolkata, June 13 (IANS) Sticking points hampering the passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill will not be on the agenda of an upcoming meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST, its chairperson said on Monday.

The contentious issues of including the GST rate in the bill, the dispute settlement mechanism and one per cent additional tax are not a part of the agenda of the two-day meet slated to begin here from Tuesday, Empowered Committee Chairman and West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra told IANS.

“These issues are not on the agenda. If finance ministers from the Congress-ruled states raise these issues, the same will be discussed. The Congress has been raising these issues but is silent, of late. There are only a few Congress-ruled states left,” Mitra said here.

“There is other agenda. There will be a discussion on the draft GST Bill, including the overall framework… and what would be the Information Technology process of the GST,” he said.

“The meeting will also discuss how to resolve issues between the states and the Centre on the GST,” the minister added.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will attend the meeting on the first day.

The Kolkata meeting will follow West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s declaration of support to the GST, which has come as a boost for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s efforts to get the bill passed in the upper house of parliament during the monsoon session starting next month.

The Congress has been demanding that a cap be put on the GST rate in the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Besides, the Congress is opposing the one per cent extra GST levy on producer states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

The Congress also wants disputes between the states to be settled by the judiciary, while the Centre wants it to be settled by the GST Council.

The bill for a pan-India GST to thoroughly overhaul India’s indirect tax regime has been passed by the Lok Sabha, the Indian Parliament’s lower house, but is stalled in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA currently lacks a majority.

The states will draft their own State GST (SGST) based on the draft model law with minor variations, incorporating state-specific exemptions.

The Centre and the states will also have to approve the integrated GST law or iGST, which will deal with inter-state movement of goods.

The Constitution amendment bill needs to be ratified by more than half of the states.

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