Wednesday, 23 August, 2017

Rajya Sabha Okays All Four GST Bills - With Manmohan Singh's Help

Illustration Jayachandran  Mint GST Bills to be tabled in Rajya Sabha today
Sammy Stanley | 07 April, 2017, 01:47

The four GST Bills were passed after an eight-hour marathon debate in the Lower House.

"The house has passed the four bills related to Goods and Services Tax (GST) and these are being discussed in the upper house".

Ramesh did not press his amendments saying that he was following former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advice to maintain consensus.

Rajya Sabha passed the GST bill without any amendments.

"I have no hesitation in conceding that it is not a bill for which one government, one person or any individual should take a credit. We learned from the experience and today, it is the collective property of the country", Jaitley said.

The GST regime, which will replace the existing indirect tax structure in the country, is expected to further boost the business sentiment and aid economic growth.

Responding to concerns expressed by the members, Jaitley insisted that the GST will not lead to inflation. He said, the work on fixing rates has started and GST council will take final decision next month.

A moderate rate would facilitate compliance, he said.

The next step will be the states and Union Territories passing the state and UT GST laws through their assemblies and the Centre furnishing fitment of rates for goods and services.

The compensation law has been prepared to give a legislative backing to the Centre's promise to compensate the states for five years for any revenue loss arising out of GST implementation. "It is the former PM who told me that don't do this because it will send a wrong signal for a new federal framework", Ramesh said.

He said that Jammu and Kashmir in the Constitutional Amendment itself and in the law is not included because of Article 370 but consumers in the state will be left out of the benefit of GST.

MoS (Finance) Santosh Gangwar said the changes are necessary.

Regarding audit by the CAG, he said the apex auditor draws powers from the Constitution and can scrutinise whether the respective departments are working according to the norms. He said, all those items which are exempted as of now will continue to be exempted.

Ancilliary products also will remain exempted, he added. Today, constitutionally, petroleum products are under GST, but will be zero rated.

CPI leader D Raja said increasing the slabs of indirect taxes will put a burden on common people.

Jaitley said the cess would be transient for a period of 5 years so that the proceeds can be utilised to compensate the states.

Talking to reporters after the bills were passed by parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it was a "historic day".

Jain said additional clarifications are needed, but that the draft rules bring clarity on several critical aspects of the GST that will enable industry to begin planning for process and technology related changes.

The government has set the maximum GST rate at 40% and introduced provisions for an anti-profiteering authority and arrests for evading taxes.

With some members raising concerns about the structure of GST Network which include some private players, the minister said that the present structure was created to hire the best talent pool and can be changed anytime.

"Government can acquire 1-2 percent more shares in GSTN, but not sure if the flexibility will remain".

The Central government owns 24.5 per cent stake in GSTN, state governments own another 24.5 per cent, while the HDFC, NSE Strategic Investment Corporation, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank own 10 per cent each.

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