Virtually all States have agreed on GST says Arun Jaitley


New Delhi : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attended a crucial meeting to decide the roadmap for the Goods & Services Bill. The meeting was attended by the 22 state finance ministers. He claimed that all States have arrived at "broad consensus" with Tamil Nadu expressing "some reservations". Tamil Nadu's reservations have been submitted to the GST committee and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST will look into the matter.

The Empowered Committee, chaired by Amit Mitra, West Bengal Finance Minister, is meeting for two days here in Kolkata. "Virtually every State has supported the GST," “As far as 1% additional tax for first 3 years is concerned, I have made it clear that I am flexible on that issue,” Jaitley added. Twenty-two states were represented at the meeting, which began in the morning, by their finance ministers. West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra chaired the meeting.

Discussions on the draft GST Bill, including the overall framework, and the Information Technology process of the GST were on the agenda of the two-day discussions. The meeting was to deliberate upon finding ways and means to resolve issues between the states and the Centre on the GST. The meeting follows West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s declaration of support to the GST, which has come as a boost for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s efforts to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session starting next month.

The bill for a pan-India GST to thoroughly overhaul India’s indirect tax regime, first mooted by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime at the Centre, has been passed by the Lok Sabha, but is stalled in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA lacks a majority. The states will draft their own State GST (SGST) bill based on the draft model law with minor variations, incorporating state-specific exemptions. The Centre and the 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 of the states.