The way has been cleared for implementation of the biggest indirect tax reform since independence, as the GST was approved by parliament when the Rajya Sabha April 6 passed the four enabling bills its roll out, possibly on July 1.
Central Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, Integrated GST Bill, Compensation GST Bill and Union Territory GST Bill 2017 - were passed by the Rajya Sabha and returned to Lok Sabha, after a discussion of nearly nine hours spread across two days.
The compensation law provides a legislative backing to the centre's promise to compensate the states for five years for any revenue loss arising out of GST implementation.
Replying to the 8-hour-long debate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also gave credit to the previous UPA government for the GST. "I am just trying to highlight the difference between the former Prime Minister who is a statesman and the present Prime Minister who is a politician", Ramesh said. The final approval to the remaining four rules will be given in Srinagar on May 18-19 when the council meets. He said, it is a matter of happiness that all political parties extended their support in the passage of the bills. He said it took nearly 11 years to build a consensus on the roll out of the GST.
CPI leader D Raja said increasing the slabs of indirect taxes will put a burden on common people.
"Yesterday, the former Prime Minister advised me not to move the amendment as it will disturb the fine consensus that has been arrived at in the GST Council".
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Jaitley asked O'Brien not to press for the division, saying if Parliament changes the tax rates approved by the GST Council, then state assemblies will also make changes.
For example, a panel of central and state finance chiefs has agreed for tax rates, ranging from 5 to 28 percent, it has yet to decide which rates will apply to which categories of goods.
The GST Council will also take decisions regarding inclusion of petroleum products and alcohol in the GST network, one by one, in the foreseeable future. "There must be cooperation between the federal government and the state government to resolve those outstanding issues", said Dr Singh.
The balance 51 per cent equity is with non-government financial institutions - HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, NSE Strategic Investment Co and LIC Housing Finance Ltd.
He said the GSTN has been designed in such a manner that it can not be audited by CAG and RTI too does not apply to it. The government has set the maximum GST rate at 40% and introduced provisions for an anti-profiteering authority and arrests for evading taxes.