Lack of clarity has marred the state government over GST. The tax regime that is to be implemented across India from next month has generated enough heat in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Not only has the opposition reacted sharply over its implementation but the traders fraternity in the Valley and the separatists are on a warpath over GST implementation.
The plan to implement the new GST regime in Kashmir has created controversy one after another, and rightly so. The opposition, separatists and trade unions have unanimously opposed the implementation of the GST regime.
The opposition by the various corners stems from the fact that the present dispensation wishes to implement the GST in a jiffy. One of the ruling partners in the collation, the BJP wants its implementation without any changes for safeguarding the interests of the state and protecting the article 370.
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 the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Jammu and Kashmir 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.
However, disturbing reports have surfaced after these developments as the centre wants the state of J&K to ensure implementation of GST at an earliest.
The centre is trying to bully the state as various pressure groups too have been asked to stress for the GST implementation. The statements issued by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce is one such trade body that has come openly in support of the GST implementation in the state.
It seems strange that 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.
Given the mysteries surrounding the GST implementation, the government needs to come clean over the issue. The state’s finance minister needs to clear all such fears that have been aired by various quarters including the trad fraternity in the Valley.
Any move to get the GST rolling in the state can spell yet another disaster for the state, and the government functionaries should understand that the state cannot afford any such misadventure at this juncture.