The much-awaited GST Bill, which provides for an overhaul of the taxation system, was introduced in the Lok Sabha today i.e. Monday with government saying concerns of all the states have been taken care of and they would benefit from the “win-win” measure.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill will be taken up in the next session of Parliament and that he will be open to all suggestions “till the very last minute”. Introducing the bill which was cleared by the Cabinet on Wednesday, he said, “We have made sure that no state will lose a rupee of revenue. It will be a win-win situation.” He said states would be compensated on account of CST and the first installment would be made before March 31 next year.
Seeking to allay apprehensions of states, Jaitley, who spoke on the bill in Rajya Sabha also, said their interests are more than adequately protected and he did not foresee a situation where states would be the losers. The GST will incorporate indirect taxes like excise duty and service tax on the central front and VAT on the states level, besides local levies. There are differences between the Centre and states on some issues with regard to the implementation of GST that includes the revenue neutral rate and keeping petroleum,alcohol out of the ambit.
He said the government would give “constitutional assurance” in terms of compensating the possible losses incurred by states. GST reform would strengthen the principle of “co-operative federalism” as Centre and state would need to work together to take decisions which would require 75 per cent majority approval, the Finance Minister said. As some members questioned the hurry and wanted the crucial legislation to be sent to the Standing Committee, Jaitley contended that the government’s intention was not to “push” or “rush” the bill through.
“Let there be no tax on tax. If you have multiple taxation imposed, the burden and procedural complication increase. One legitimate fear is there and therefore I am not going to rush through with this, though the Standing committee has cleared it and I have discussed it repeatedly and Mr Chidambaram has discussed it repeatedly,” he said.