Enough safeguards made in GST regime to protect autonomy: Drabu

Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu, Friday said that enough constitutional safeguards have been  made to protect the autonomy of the state for the implementation of new goods and services tax (GST) regime in the state.

Speaking after tabling the SGST bill in the Legislative Assembly today, Drabu said that in the Presidential order which has been issued to extend the GST to the state, adequate provisions have been made to safeguard the autonomy of the state.

He informed that all necessary “safeguards to section-5 of the J&K state constitution and those enshrined in Article-370 of the Indian Constitution have been incorporated in the Presidential order regarding which apprehensions were expressed by some members in the legislature during the discussion on this important legislation.”

Before moving the bill for consideration and passing by the state legislature, Drabu read out the contents of the Presidential Order pertaining to the special status of the state and its exclusive taxation powers.

“Although there is no tradition of tabling a Presidential Order in the House, we are starting a new tradition in the democracy of the state by tabling this Presidential Order in the house,” he said and added that the proviso-3 of the Presidential Order “clearly states that notwithstanding anything contained in this order, the powers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per Section-5 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, shall remain intact.”

“The Legislature of the state of Jammu and Kashmir shall have the powers to make laws with respect to goods and services tax levied by the state,”  Drabu said while reading from the excerpts of the Presidential order pertaining to the special status and exclusive taxation powers of the state.

“The legislature of the state of Jammu and Kashmir shall have exclusive powers to make laws in respect of imposition of any taxes enabled by Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir,,’’ he added.

Notwithstanding anything contained in “clause 4 to clause 11 for the purpose of any decision impinging on constitutional provisions relating to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the concurrence of the representative of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the goods and services tax (GST) council shall be mandatory and the procedure provided under Article 370 shall be followed,’’ the Presidential Order reads.

It adds that “nothing in this article shall affect in any manner whatsoever the legislative competence of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as guaranteed by virtue of Section-5 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.’’

The order says that the amount apportioned to the state shall not form part of the Consolidated Fund of India.

“Where an amount collected as tax levied under clause (I) has been used for the payment of the tax levied by a state under Article 246 A, such amount shall not form part of the consolidated fund of India,” it says. 

“The incorporation of constitutional safeguards into the Presidential Order upholds the  Govt’s resolve to protect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir,” Drabu said.

“The Opposition had made a huge issue out of a non-issue by claiming that the fiscal autonomy of J&K will be compromised and the special status of the state under Indian Constitution will be eroded. The Presidential Order has respected the sanctity of the J&K Legislature by safeguarding our constitutional, economic and administrative powers,” he said.   

While replying to a query by independent legislator, Pawan Gupta, regarding the abolition of toll Tax and entry tax at Lakhanpur, Drabu said that there will be no entry tax on goods, but the issue of toll tax is a “subject matter of the state  government and will be decided by the State Cabinet in the due course of time.’’

Finance Minister said that the financial and administrative safeguards as promised by the government in the GST regime would come in due course of time.



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