Government to advance winter session to facilitate GST roll out

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) To facilitate roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by April 1 next year, the winter session of Parliament is likely to be advanced to the second week of November to ensure the government gets adequate time for parliamentary nod to supporting bills.

“An early winter session of Parliament by second week of November will help quick passage of the central GST bill and also the Integrated GST bill. By first week of December, the government wants to clear the paper works vis-a-vis legislative matters,” a government source said here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior officials from the Finance ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Wednesday reviewed the government’s preparation on the same.

“In order to ensure that there is no slippage on date of implementation of GST from April 1, 2017, the Prime Minister reviewed the progress made on various steps needed for the roll-out of GST relating to preparation of Model GST laws and rules to be framed, establishment of IT infrastructure for both Centre and States, training of officers of Central and State Governments and outreach for awareness of trade and industry,” an official release said on Thursday.

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The Central GST and the Integrated GST bills are supporting and mandatory legislation to the Constitutional Amendment Bill approved by Parliament in August. Around 20 states have passed the state legislation as against 16 required to roll out the much talked about central tax regime.

The final decision on advancing winter session of parliament to second week of November – that normally is convened only by third or fourth week – is likely to be taken by the Union Cabinet next week.

“As of now that is the line of thinking. A proposal may have to be prepared by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry. All necessary pros and cons are being discussed,” the source said.

Sources said the cabinet is also set to discuss the proposal for merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget and also to advance the Budget Session to last week of January to transact all legislative works before the beginning of the new fiscal from April 1, 2017.

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According to new proposals being considered, the integrated budget may now be presented to both Houses of Parliament on January 31.

Sources said the union Finance Ministry has been asked to revamp and bring necessary changes in the basic budget making exercise. The government sources said earlier that merging the Railway Budget and the General Budget would help cash-strapped Indian Railways save about Rs 10,000 crore annually.

On August 2, the Lok Sabha adopted a resolution under which the Railway Ministry sought to question the practice of railways paying dividends to the government. Railways also pay about Rs 10,000 crore as dividend annually.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had also said: “This paying dividend to the Finance Ministry is one area which really needs to be looked into. Why should the Railway pay dividend?”

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The first Report of Railway Convention Committee (2014), appointed to review the rate of dividend payable by the Railway Undertaking to general revenues, had also favoured not paying the dividends, sources said.



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