Manmohan hails GST passage

Posted April 07, 2017

The Rajya Sabha earlier in the day passed four GST Bills without amendments setting the stage for the government to launch on July 1, the country's biggest tax reform since Independence.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had tabled the bill in Rajya Sabha earlier in the morning. He said, the work on fixing rates has started and GST council will take final decision next month.

Besides, GST compensation law allows for imposition of cess on certain luxury goods like tobacco, high-end cars and aerated drinks to create a fund for compensating states for any loss of revenue in the first five years after implementing the new indirect tax. He said, it is a matter of happiness that all political parties extended their support in the passage of the bills.

The Customs Tariff Act is proposed to be amended to provide for levy of Integrated Goods and Services Tax and Goods and Services Tax Compensation cess on imported goods.

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Jaitley said the successive governments have contributed towards the GST and no one person can take credit for it.

"Whatever goods are exempted from tax today, will remain exempted.

We can of course ask the Council to reconsider its suggestion".

Now, state assemblies must approve a fifth bill before the new tax system can be rolled out.

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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. Further, the GST will pull down India's gross domestic product (GDP), by up to 2%. "In deference to what the former PM said, in spite of the former PM being at the receiving end of the jibes of his successor including rain coat and what not, I think in view of the statesman-like approach that the former PM Manmohan Singh has advised me not to move this amendment", he added.

Highlighting the federal structure of the Council, Jaitley said 32 representatives from the Centre and states are finalising the GST rules.

He said there is no safeguard clause and no proposal on how the government will address inflation arising out of the implementation of the GST.

He said the present structure was created to hire the best talent pool as the entity would be handling billions of vouchers every month.

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The central government owns 24.5 percent stake in the GSTN, state governments own another 24.5 percent, while the HDFC, National Stock Exchange Strategic Investment Corporation, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank each own a 10 percent stake.