GST: No consensus among states yet, Centre concerned

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) Another effort by the Centretowards a consensus on the proposed Goods and Services Taxtoday suffered a setback with 10 states opposing the new draftfor a tax regime aimed at changing India''s fiscal landscape.

The consensus for a Constitution Amendment Bill amongstates could not be reached even after Union Finance MinisterPranab Mukherjee agreed to fully compensate states lossessuffered due to a reduction in the rate of the central salestax (CST) from four to two per cent.

In all, finance ministers or senior officials of 26states participated in the meeting of the Empowered Committeeof State Finance Ministers chaired by West Bengal FinanceMinister Asim Dasgupta.

After the meeting, the finance ministers met Mukherjee.

"...16 states indicated support of the revised draftamendments proposed by the government of India... Ten Statesopposed," a finance ministry statement said.

Mukherjee shared his concern over delay in the GSTroll-out.

"We have missed the timelines twice and it is my earnestrequest to you all (state finance ministers) that we moveexpeditiously and introduce the Constitutional Amendment Billin the forthcoming Budget session," Mukherjee told financeministers.

The finance ministry said: "It is the prerogative of theexecutive, in this case, the government of India to introducea bill in Parliament seeking amendment of the constitution. Itis the Parliament�s prerogative to either decide in favour ofits approval or its rejection."

Quoting Mukherjee, it said: "Since the issue has beenunder discussion now for four years and majority of stateshave expressed support for early introduction of the bill...

it was time for action."

The UPA government wants to introduce the GST AmendmentBill in the upcoming Budget session of Parliament. Severalstates, mostly NDA-ruled states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh andGujarat, are opposed to draft proposals apprehending theirautonomy would be compromised.

In its latest GST constitution amendment draft -- thethird of its kind -- the Centre has proposed to give power toParliament for constituting the GST council, a move vehementlyopposed by the BJP-ruled states.

"This will destroy our fiscal autonomy, so we do notaccept the constitution amendment bill for GST," MadhyaPradesh Finance Minister Raghavji said.

Mukherjee, meanwhile, sought to allay concerns saying:"There would be adequate scope and opportunity for refinementof the text of the amendments proposed after its (ConstitutionAmendment Bill) intruduction..." .

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