SRINAGAR: JK Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on Friday said that the economic reforms introduced by India’s former finance minister Manmohan Singh did not take states on board, unlike the BJP-led government’s GST reform which is based on consensus of all state governments.
Speaking at a roundtable of state finance ministers organised by the Indian daily, Mint, in Srinagar, Drabu said, “The economic reforms ushered in 1991 didn’t seek to consult the states. Now in 2017, with the GST being rolled out on July 1, every single state has been taken on board. This is one step that complements other moves, and changes the structure of Indian federalism,” he said.
Drabu said the new tax regime would pave the way for cooperative federalism in India. “The GST will bring major changes in fiscal and political side of India’s federal structure, because of which coercive federalism will give way to cooperative and competitive federalism,” Drabu said.
He said the new tax regime has sown the seeds of lateral federalism by recognising the new political, economic and social realities in the country. He said the GST should be looked at more in terms of changing the federal polity across India.
The JK finance minister said the GST would institutionalise tax collection and increase compliance tremendously, thereby making India a better and vibrant country. “While there may be issues of sovereignty and autonomy, the GST Council is India’s first federal institution and we would like to see more moving ahead,” he said.
The roundtable was attended by Assam finance minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma, Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac, and the finance minister of Karnataka. Welcoming them to Kashmir, Drabu said it is important to send out a signal to the rest of the country about the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir.
“There is a multi-layered reality to life in Jammu and Kashmir. While we have been dealing with the prevailing situation on one hand, it doesn’t stop life here. We are witnessing economic history in this beautiful city of Srinagar in an incredible manner through pooling of sovereignties. Nothing can make us prouder,” Drabu said.
Assam’s finance minister Sarma said that people of Kashmir are known for their hospitality and they have outdone themselves this time. “The state government has done a wonderful job. The impression from outside the Valley about the situation is wrong. Although there are incidences of violence happening, but a fair amount of normalcy prevails,” he said.