Srinagar: The opposition National Conference said on Sunday that it will not accept the Goods and Services Tax (GST) if adequate safeguards are not created to protect the special status and fiscal autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. It warned that the government will face “consequences” if it did not spell out what it was planning to do on the new tax regime.
Addressing the media at a local hotel in Srinagar, senior NC leader and former finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather said that constitutional, administrative and economic safeguards were necessary before implementing the GST in the state.
“If not done, NC will not accept the GST. We need assurances on that front. The government should not extend it to the state without modification. We will not accept the GST in its present form in the state,” Rather said.
During the launch of GST in New Delhi, J&K finance minister Haseeb Drabu had said that the state would implement the GST by July 6.
“If it was so, why is the government calling a special session of the legislature to discuss the GST,” Rather questioned.
He said that the NC has not opposed the GST, but is only asking for safeguards. “Otherwise, if the GST is implemented in the present form, it would prove detrimental for the special status of the state,” Rather said. “Under Article 370, we have our own fiscal autonomy. So, if you implement the GST in its present form, it would compromise the special status, besides surrendering the tax regime to the centre.”
The NC leader said that the government had failed to provide any proposal which safeguards the special position of the state. “Now the government says it will spell out the modification in the GST in the special Assembly session. But don’t the traders and people have the right to know?” he questioned.
Rather also did not speak about what the party will do if the GST is implemented in its present form, except reiterating it will have “consequences”.
Responding to finance minister Haseeb Drabu’s claim that Rather had made “immense contributions” to developing the GST, Rather conceded that he played a vital role in developing a consensus on GST. “You can check the minutes of meetings. I have always emphasised that special safeguards were needed before implementing GST in Kashmir,” Rather said.
“Then we could not develop a mechanism to modify the GST since there was no 101st Amendment brought in the Indian Constitution,” he explained.
He said that Drabu had said on June 4, 2015, that he will abide by the policy of the previous government before implementing the GST.
“Is he doing so?” Rather questioned.