State finance ministers to meet on GST in Kolkata

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will meet in Kolkata with West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra in the chair for two days beginning on Tuesday, an official source said here.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will attend the meeting on the first day, the union ministry official added.

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

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 National Democratic Alliance 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 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 the states of the Indian republic.

The empowered committee is likely to discuss issues such as the proposed additional one per cent tax on inter-state sales, which is opposed by the Congress party. Industry leaders have also expressed reservations about possible inflationary impact of the additional tax, saying it could have a cascading effect on prices.

Jaitley said earlier this month that he was “reasonably hopeful” that the GST Bill would be passed by the Rajya Sabha in the next session, and that all supporting legislations required will be in place by the year-end.

“I intend bringing up the Constitution Amendment Bill for consideration in the Upper House in the very next session of parliament, which starts next month, and I am reasonably hopeful of this being passed,” he said, addressing the India Investment Promotion Seminar in Osaka, Japan.

He added that members in the Rajya Sabha are “overwhelmingly in favour of GST”.

“Now, on the assumption that the GST will be passed in the monsoon session of parliament, then by the end of the year those draft legislations are ready and the GST Council has to approve it,” he said.

–IANS

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