Assam first state to ratify GST Bill

Guwahati, Aug 12 (IANS) Assam on Friday became the first state in the country to ratify the constitution amendment bill on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the assembly unanimously passed the bill.

The state cabinet approved the bill on Friday morning, before it was placed in the House during the ongoing assembly session.

“A historic resolution was passed in the assembly today (Friday). Assam has became the first state to ratify the constitutional amendment bill relating to the GST,” Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted soon after it was ratified.

“I am sure Assam will benefit from the GST through higher economic growth and better revenue collection,” said Sonowal.

Sonowal later told the media that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a telephonic conversation, congratulated him on the bill’s ratification.

Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Chief Minister wanted Assam to become the first state to pass the bill to send a positive signal to the industry.

“It is a historic occasion for the state to be the first to pass this bill. I thank the Speaker (Ranjit Kumar Das) for allowing us to introduce it today as we informed him on Thursday night,” said Sarma, who introduced the bill on behalf of the Chief Minister.

The opposition Congress and All India United Democratic Front MLAs, who had earlier sought a discussion in the assembly to evaluate GST’s impact on Assam and its people, also supported the bill.

Their demand for a discussion was earlier turned down by the Speaker.

Of the central GST portion, 42 per cent tax will be given back to the state. The GST will also have a special concession option for north-eastern and Himalayan states if they request reduction in taxes for any reason.

Besides, these states can collect special tax during any natural calamity or disaster, subject to approval by the GST Council.

The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill for GST was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday, with 443 members present in the House voting in favour of the legislation. The deadline for the rollout of the GST is April 1, 2017.

At least 50 per cent of the states have to pass what is technically the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, for the next steps of legislative action to follow, to ultimately introduce a pan-India Goods and Services Tax regime.

The new regime seeks to subsume all central indirect levies like excise duty, countervailing duty and service tax, as also state taxes such as value added tax, entry tax and luxury tax, to create a single, pan-India market.

–IANS

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