New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir, the only state which failed to meet the 30 June timeline for the goods and services tax (GST) rollout, is likely to clear the legislation on the indirect tax regime by 6 July, its finance minister Haseeb Drabu said Friday in New Delhi.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had on Monday written a letter to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, saying that failure of the state to implement the GST would lead to “adverse impact" of price rise and put the local industry at a disadvantage. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state which has not taken a call yet on the implementation of the new tax regime which came into force in the country from Friday midnight.
“Jammu and Kashmir (assembly) is likely to pass the GST bill by 6 July in the state," said Drabhu, who was in New Delhi to attend the midnight launch of the GST in the central hall of Parliament. Earlier Friday evening, the J&K finance minister attended the meeting of GST Council convened by Jaitley. In view of differences among the political parties, the state government had set up an all-party consultative group to find a common ground.
The consultative group held its second meeting on Thursday after which the government claimed that the parties were in agreement on extension of the new tax regime but with safeguards to protect the fiscal autonomy of the state. “There was a general consensus in the meeting that non-implementation of the GST regime would trigger economic and financial chaos in the state with the inter-state trade vis- a-vis J&K taking a big hit," an official spokesman said.
A few days back, Drabu had said the Mehbooba Mufti government is “genuinely interested" in building a consensus because the GST is a regime that would last for the next 30-40 years. “We will take a final call on the GST implementation once we get the full sense of the all-party meeting. I do not want to pre-empt anybody. Let us understand what their views are," he had said.
Drabu said the state government has reached out to the opposition parties of the state and sent them all the relevant documents. He said a perception has been created that the GST would impact the special status and the fiscal autonomy of the state, but there is no compromise on Article 370. “The government is trying to build a consensus. This is a very fragile society. We are going through difficult times...the way things are happening around us, the way things have been dehumanized, anything can spark off. You do not want to create social chaos. So, it is in the interest of the society of J&K, not just the economy, to build a certain political as well as legislative consensus," he said.
The consultative committee meeting held threadbare discussions over the legal, legislative, financial, economic and administrative aspects of the GST regime with the chairman explaining in detail the nuances of the new tax regime. Making a U-turn, the Jammu and Kashmir Congress had said Thursday that it was not against the implementation of the GST in the state, nearly two weeks after terming it as “unacceptable".
The party accused the government for the “current chaos, confusion and uncertainty" and said a “proper mode" should be adopted for implementation of the GST in the state in view of its special status. “As far as the Congress is concerned, it has never been against implementation of GST, which is its brain child. But it is the government which had to adopt the proper mode and manner of implementation of the same in J&K," state Congress committee spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said in New Delhi Friday.
A statement issued after a meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee executive panel in New Delhi under the chairmanship of party unit chief G.A. Mir said, “It is the duty of the government to take steps to ensure the timely implementation of the GST, if they are sincere."