Srinagar: Even as the government continues to remain tight-lipped on how the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be implemented in the state, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu has said that the government will take the final call on GST after holding an all-party meeting on Thursday.
“The final call on GST will be taken tomorrow,” Drabu said during a press interaction on GST on Wednesday. “We will conduct an all-party meeting during which we will do our best to build a broad consensus on GST. We will take a final call then. We will take it to the Assembly for discussion and only after
that, we will implement it.”
Drabu said the government had invited Congress and National conference (NC) to participate in the meeting.
“They will be attending the meet,” Drabu said.
The NC and Congress had earlier pulled out from the all-party meeting last Saturday because the government had not provided them the draft legislation of GST.
The government had earlier said that it will form an all-party committee to discuss ways of implementing the GST in the state. This announcement was made after opposition parties and business bodies threatened to oppose the GST “tooth and nail” as it would compromise the fiscal and constitutional autonomy of the state.
“We are discussing the issues with legislators and the various stakeholders. We will build consensus before implementing the GST in our state. We will bring the GST legislation before the Assembly. It will be a modified legislation (from the central government’s law),” Drabu said.
The finance minister said that Jammu and Kashmir will not implement the Indian government’s GST legislation as it was. “We will not extend the Indian government’s amendment of Article 101 in this form. We will modify Article 101 and implement it in a way that will safeguard the special status of the state. The Jammu and Kashmir government will not compromise on Article 5 of the JK Constitution by virtue of which the state levies powers of taxation, nor compromise on Article 370 (of Indian Constitution that grants special status to J&K),” he added.
The minister claimed that the government will not violate any Article of the state’s Constitution. “We have created the safeguards, before implementing GST in the state,” Drabu said, without explaining the safeguards that the government has created.
The finance minister had called for a media interaction at the information department office to discuss the GST. Despite the interaction lasting for more than an hour, he did not spell out the modifications being carried out in the central government’s GST legislation.
Drabu said that the state government was building consensus. “The situation is fragile and we have become dehumanised. No one wants to create social chaos. We need a legitimate and legistative consensus before moving ahead on GST,” he said. “The extension of Article 101 (to J&K) and its implications will be discussed,” he added.
He said that if the GST is not implemented, no trade will take place in the state.
“Our state cannot function in isolation. It will stop noone te teil (salt and oil) supply to Kashmir. Import and export will come to a stop. The traders cannot function without a GST number. GST is beneficial for traders of the state,” Drabu said.
He compared the Value Added Tax (VAT) to i-phone 6 and GST to i-phone 7. “It is a superior model of the Value Added tax (VAT),” Drabu said.
He said that Jammu and Kashmir being a consumer state would be the biggest beneficiary of the GST. Manufacturing states like Gujarat and Maharashtra will be at a loss, he said.
“The GST will reduce corruption. It is a transparent system. It is a self-assessment model of taxation. The harassment by tax officials will end,” Drabu said.
He said that the first four months after the implementation of GST will disrupt the existing taxing system, but will “inject impetus” to business in the state.