SRINAGAR: The All Party Meeting (APM) convened by PDP-BJP coalition government on Tuesday failed to reach any consensus on the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the State and agreed to postpone the special Assembly session on GST from June 17.
“The idea behind convening the APM was to evolve a broad-based consensus on adopting any tax regime in the State,” Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti said in her opening remarks.
The new tax regime would be implemented in the country from July 1.
However, since J&K enjoys Article 370, the government has not yet accorded sanction for implementation of the GST in the State.
Mehbooba appealed representatives of parties to come forward with their suggestions and remarks on the subject so that a view, which represents the aspirations of all sections of the society, is taken by the State government.
The implementation of GST regime in the State, she said, is a subject matter of collective decision by every section of society and not of government alone and hoped that fruitful discussions on the subject would be held in the Assembly during forthcoming special session on June 71.
Mehbooba said her government was open to suggestions from all sections including political quarters and business class.
The APM was attended by representatives of PDP, BJP, National Conference, Peoples Conference, Congress, CPI(M), independent legislators, former MLA and top officials.
The opposition National Conference (NC) expressed apprehension that implementation of GST in the State could have wider ramifications on the State’s fiscal autonomy and infringe upon the residuary powers enjoyed by Jammu Kashmir.
It expressed grave concern over extension of Constitutional Amendment 101 of the Constitution of India to J&K.
The traders and business community also maintains that implementing GST would erode Jammu Kashmir’s autonomy and said they would oppose the new tax regime tooth and nail.
Trying to clear apprehension of opposition and traders, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said J&K Legislature can enact a comprehensive GST law, where tax will be levied corresponding to aggregate SGST and CGST.
"We will harmonize GST in J&K by extension of only such limbs of Constitutional Amendment 101 which are already applicable to JK, thereby keeping special status and fiscal autonomy intact," he said.
He warned that in the case of non-participation by J&K, the state will become isolated.
“In case J&K government doesn't extend GST regime to the state, it will double the taxes on commodities and no one will do business with traders of the state. The share of taxes in indirect taxes will be zero causing a loss of Rs 5000 crore to J&K," he said adding, “J&K derives its authority to tax from Section-5 of the Constitution of J&K, so there is no question of surrendering the state's fiscal autonomy”.
The representatives of opposition parties, however, insisted deferment of special Assembly session from June 17 to discuss GST.
The opposition members said the government agreed to defer the scheduled four-day special session of Assembly session on GST from June 17.
“The government has no roadmap on GST implementation in the State. They did not tell us how they would safeguard the fiscal autonomy of the state if new tax regime is implemented,” NC’s provincial president Kashmir, Nasi Aslam Wani said.
He said the CM told the APM that after the obituary reference on June 17, the Business Advisory Committee will announce deferment of a special session of J&K Assembly on GST.
The government also promised them that they would engage constitutional and financial experts to safeguard interests of J&K and amendments made to GST would be first presented to the parties, Aslam said
He, however, said the government is misleading that everyone is one board on the issue.
“We would oppose its implementation tooth and nail,” added Aslam.
The June 7 cabinet meeting chaired by CM Mehbooba Mufti had cleared the draft legislation on GST but decided to convene a special session of the Assembly on June 17 to discuss its implementation.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during his visit to Kashmir last month to chair two-day meeting of Finance Ministers on GST had stated that J&K Assembly has every right to take a decision on GST and assured that that central government will extend all possible help in restructuring the new tax regime implementation for the State while respecting its special status.