New Delhi: Jammu & Kashmir finance minister Haseeb Drabu on Saturday set the record straight on the goods and services tax (GST), saying the empowered committee has agreed that the proposed tax will not be extended to the state in the current form.
The state government will come out with a separate proposal on how to participate in the GST framework without compromising its constitutional position on taxing services. Drabu, according to an official release, made these submissions at a meeting of the Empowered Committee (EC) of state finance ministers in the national capital on 26 July.
“I made the case before the EC that J&K’s special taxation powers have to be protected while rolling out GST,” Drabu said, adding that J&K is the only state in the country with powers to tax services. The committee, he added, has agreed with the state’s contention and asked it to come up with separate proposal.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who was also present at the meeting, is believed to have made it clear that it is for the state government to decide the manner and method of GST applicability while safeguarding its own taxation powers.
The GST bill, currently stuck in the Rajya Sabha because of resistance by main Opposition Congress, is likely to be taken up for discussion next week. Drabu is of the view that there are some other contentious issues in the existing GST bill that need to be addressed before extending the new tax regime to J&K.
Drabu said that once the new tax takes off, the GST Council becomes more powerful than state legislatures, which is a matter of concern for the J&K government and needs to be sorted out, given the state’s special status. He also referred to the challenge of continuing exemptions for the industry in the new set-up.
“The state government is giving various tax exemptions to the industry. In the GST regime, all such exemptions have been done away with,” he said and added that the challenge before the state is to keep the exemptions without breaking the GST chain. “We will have to take care of all these issues before joining the GST regime,” Drabu clarified.