SRINAGAR: As the finance ministers of Finance Ministers, Finance Secretaries and other taxation officials from different states and union territories met here to finalise the tax rates, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday promised Jammu and Kashmir government that central government will extend all possible help in restructuring the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation for the State while respecting its special status.
“I assure J&K government that centre will extend all possible help in restructuring the GST implementation for the State while respecting its special status,” Jaitley told the meeting of the 14th GST Council, which began at Sher--i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), here this morning amidst tight security measures.
The finance ministers, Finance Secretaries and other taxation officials from the states and union territories attended the two-day GST council meeting.
Jaitley complimented J&K’s Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu and the state government for making outstanding arrangements for the final leg of the GST Council before the law is rolled out on July 1 this year.
The meeting observed two minutes silence in remembrance of Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, who passed away today at the age of 60 at his residence in the national capital.
Later, addressing a press conference, Jaitley said it is for the J&K and its Assembly to decide and take an appropriate decision on implementation of GST.
“However, it is as clean as daylight that both the state and consumers will benefit by integrating the State with the country,” he said.
According to Jaitley, since GST is a production based tax and J&K being a consumer state, it (state’s) tax revenue would increase.
“The state government is fully competent to have its own GST and as per the constitutional arrangement of the state, it can take any decision,” he said.
The GST council meeting will take a final call on new taxation regime and decide the tax bands for various commodities under the country's first, major indirect tax reform.
The holding of two-day GST council meeting in Srinagar is significant as it is being held amidst the wake of surge in militant violence, stone pelting and student protests in the Valley.
GST is a consumption-based tax levied on sale, manufacture and consumption on goods and services at a national level.
Under the law, C-GST will be levied by the Centre, S-GST by states and I-GST on inter-state supply of goods and services
J&K Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said the historic GST meeting in Srinagar will make Jammu and Kashmir part of the economic history aimed at reordering the country's federal polity.
"We are now part of the national policy making which will be recorded in the history," he said.
Drabu told reporters that for implementation of GST, that state government will introduce the GST bill in the state legislature within a month.
“We will go into the GST regime but because we have a special constitutional position, we will try and make some changes,” he said.
According to him, J&K draws power to tax from section 5 of its constitution whereas all other states of India draw their powers from Article 246 of constitution of India.
“So some changes have to be made. We will try and introduce the GST bill in the state legislature within a month. After its passage in the state legislature, we will enact it,” he said.
Drabu said the State government was mulling to bring real estate under the GST.
Asserting that importing states like J&K will benefit by the GST, Drabu said, “As per our estimates, J&K will get Rs 1500 to 2000 crore profit in tax revenue. Prices will go down in next three years”.
He said the masses would get benefits of the GST because it would decrease the cascading effect of taxes.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Secretary General Faiz Ahmad Bakshi said J&K’s constitutional provisions related to taxing goods and services should not get infringed upon in any manner by application of GST regime.
He said economic activity of J&K is not same as in other states. “While it is based on industrial product/ manufacturing in other states ours revolve round handicraft, trading and horticulture produce and tourism services; and therefore deserves to be treated differently with minimum percent taxation on these products.”