Srinagar: Despite finance minister Haseeb Drabu claiming that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been modified in the interests of Jammu and Kashmir, the All Party Consultative Group (APCG) meeting held on Thursday to discuss the GST remained inconclusive as the government failed to convince the opposition on how the Constitution 101 Amendment Act would be extended to the state.
“The APCG remained inconclusive,” CPI (M) legislator MY Tarigami told Kashmir Reader. “The government could not convince the opposition on the issues related to the GST. And how the 101 Amendment Act would be extended to the state.”
He said that even as all the parties including National Conference, Congress, Peoples Democratic Front, Democratic Party Nationalist stressed on safeguarding the fiscal autonomy and special status of the state, the government could not present any modified form of GST which could have satisfsed the opposition.
“The discussion was free-wheeling,” Tarigami said. “We discussed GST application, its relation to constitution amendments, and sought details from government how 101st Amendment would be applied to the state.”
“As the government could not explain to us how it would implement the GST and amend the 101st Amendment to suit our needs, the meeting remained inconclusive,” he added.
He said that the opposition’s main argument was that the state’s autonomy, which has already been reduced to an empty shell, should not be weakened further.
“The implementation of GST will affect the services sector. The revenue collection and spending authority will lie with the GST council. The state will be having no role,” Tarigami said.
Tarigami claimed that the government was not opening up on GST and seemed to have something to hide.
NC general secretary Ali Sagar said that the government has so far remained unconvincing.
“Our demand is that the government should ensure fiscal autonomy and special status of the state. So far the government has time and again failed to tell us how they will do it,” Sagar said.
Sources said that Awami Itehad Party leader Engineer Rashid entered into arguments with a BJP leader who was claiming that GST should be implemented on July 1 in the same form.
Sources added that the government asked former finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather how to implement the GST in Kashmir, but he did not answer the query.
The APCG meeting was presided by PDP leader Muzaffar Hussein Beigh.
Haseeb Drabu had said on Wednesday that the government will take the final call on GST in today’s meeting.
He had also said that the government had modified the GST legislation to put in safeguards, without explaining what these safeguards were.
The Congress and National Conference (NC) had pulled out from the all-party meet to discuss GST that was held last Saturday. The APCC was formed after opposition parties and business bodies threatened to oppose the GST “tooth and nail” as it would compromise with the state’s tax laws and the fiscal and constitutional autonomy of the state.