The stalemate over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) continues, even as finance minister Arun Jaitley expressed hope that the July deadline for implementing the landmark indirect tax reform would be met.
“Despite teething problems, hopefully GST will come up for implementation by July 1. The entire process has to be completed by September 15...,”Jaitley said, while speaking at the UK-India Business Council meeting in London.
However, Opposition parties beg to differ with the finance minister.
“The question is not the date for rollout but whether all preparatory work has been done. And the answer is no,” said Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Sabha MP and Congress strategist.
Md Selim of CPI(M) said, “We have been hearing about deadlines for a long time. People will not believe unless the GST council formally arrives at the decision.”
At the end of the last meeting of the GST council that Jaitley heads with state finance ministers as members, the compensation bill was approved but discussion on the other legislations required to be passed before implementing the new tax was pending.
With hopes of introducing these bills before Parliament in the second half of the budget session, the GST council will discuss the IGST, CGST and SGST bills when it meets on March 4-5.
“It is not only the legislations. What about fitment of goods? What about the tax rates for services? Several key changes in law are pending so what can I say about the July 1 target? It is difficult to meet,” said the finance minister of a non-BJP ruled state.
Earlier, the GST council had approved a four-tiered GST structure with 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. But the council will have to decide which item fits into which slab.
Touted as the biggest indirect tax reform in India, the Narendra Modi government is eager to implement GST at the earliest. Apart from fuelling economic growth by 1-2 percentage points in the medium term, GST will ensure better tax compliance and make black money generation difficult.