The plan to implement the new GST regime in Kashmir has created a controversy in Kashmir, and rightly so. The opposition, separatists and trade unions have unanimously opposed the implementation of the GST regime that was agreed upon in a two-day conclave in Srinagar in May.
The uniform tax plan was agreed upon after Chief Ministers and finance ministers of several states met under the leadership of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Srinagar. Jammu and Kashmir was the host state for the two day meet but it didn’t participate in the deliberations because the state is free to decide its own tax plan under article 370 of the Constitution. At a press conference Jaitley said Jammu and Kashmir is will decide its own tax plan.
JK Finance Minister had then said the state would plan its own tax regime independent of the national tax plan to protect its autonomy. But now the government has asked the business community to register under the new tax regime without explaining what the new tax plan entails. It is now clear that government kept the people of the state in dark by quietly accepting the tax regime agreed nationally.
The Opposition is crying foul, as do the separatists and trade unions. They have accused the government of compromising the autonomy of the state by going along with uniform tax regime. The Opposition has argued that the 101st amendment of the new tax plan will end the financial autonomy the states enjoys under the article 370.
The Opposition has warned the government not to go ahead with the new GST plan implemented in rest of India and protect the state’s special status. The trade bodies have threatened a 2008 type agitation if the government forces the new GST regime on the state. The Kashmir Manufacturers and Traders Association has called for a on June 17 to protest the decision by the government to implement the new tax rates.
The Kashmir Economic Alliance has also called for a secretariat siege. The separatists leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik that comprise the joint resistance forum have also accused of jeopardizing the business interests of Kashmir by taking dictations from Nagpure,-RSS headquarters. The PDP led government must allay the fears of the Opposition and business community and protect the interests of the people at large. The PDP needs to stand up to the BJP and not sacrifice the interests of the people at the altar of power.