SRINAGAR: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) would not be implemented in the State from tomorrow as a breakthrough eluded an all-party meeting convened by PDP-BJP coalition government on its implementation in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the government has assured traders of Jammu region that the new tax regime would be implemented in the State by July 8.
“Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu assured us that the new tax regime in the state will be implemented by July 8,” Jammu Chambers of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) President, Rakesh Gupta told New Indian Express.
He said both the CM and the FM told them that special session of J&K Assembly would be convened from July 3-8 to discuss and deliberate GST implementation.
“We were assured that the government will complete legal formalities on GST implementation till July 8,” Gupta said.
He said goods can’t be imported by traders from outside the state from July 1 due to non-implementation of GST in J&K “as outside traders can’t bill J&K traders without new tax regime in the state”.
“Till GST’s implementation, we will continue to pay VAT,” Gupta said adding the J&K traders could purchase goods from outside states only after GST implementation.
The JCCI president said if GST was not implemented, it could create panic and chaos in the State as it would not only hit the traders but people of the state will also suffer due to shortage of essential commodities.
Gupta said GST had nothing to do with Article 370 as the state would retain special powers even after its implementation.
“We are ready to debate the issue with Kashmiri traders, who are opposed to GST implementation,” he said.
The all-party meeting convened by the coalition government on implementation of new tax regime in the state on Thursday remained inconclusive with opposition parties seeking safeguards on the financial autonomy of the State and the government demanding suggestions from them in the form of resolutions.
It was government’s third such attempt to iron out differences on GST.
With no breakthrough in the all-party meeting, GST would not be rolled out in the state from tomorrow as would be done in the rest of the country.
The opposition parties have objected to GST’s extension to the state in its current form saying the law infringes on J&K’s residual political autonomy and its special powers to legislate on financial matters.
According to them, the 101st Amendment of the Constitution of India to implement GST could not be extended to J&K.
However, State BJP chief spokesman Sunil Sethi said the implementation of GST was not going to affect J&K’s fiscal autonomy. “It will rather cement the autonomy as it is coming through Article 370 only.”
Senior PDP leader Nizam-ud-Din Bhat told the all-party meeting on Thursday that the CM had made it clear that the government was in no hurry to implement GST and it could wait until there was a consensus over the issue.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) President, Mohammad Yasin Khan, said Kashmiri traders won’t allow its implementation.
“The traders' community in Kashmir is ready to face any losses but won’t allow implementation of GST in its present form,” Khan said while addressing a press conference here, today.
Stating that “One Tax and One India” idea was not acceptable to J&K, which enjoys special status under Article 370, he called for Kashmir Bandh on Saturday against the proposed implementation of GST in the state.
He maintained that traders in the state have never been against any taxes but added that they won’t allow eroding of the special status of J&K.
“Even if coming in the way of GST means sacrificing our lives, we are ready for it and won’t allow any amendments to the special status of J&K,” Khan said.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) has already made it clear that it would not allow implementation of GST in its present form as it compromises financial autonomy and special status of the state.
The chamber has asked the state government to spell out alternate measures to be taken by it from July 1 when GST would be rolled out in other states.