BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 was passed in the assembly by a voice vote even as members cutting across partylines expressed concern over several aspects of legislation which are likely to be a burden on poorer section of society.
The demand of the Opposition Congress to refer the Bill to the select committee for a detailed discussion was rejected. While many members cutting across partylines did not seem to have a clear understanding of the Bill provisions, ruling party member Ranendra Pratap Swain embarrassed government by supporting leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra who had brought several amendments to clear confusion in the meaning of several clauses and sub-clauses of the legislation.
However, the state government rejected all the amendments brought by the Opposition Congress. An amendment given by him to delete a sub-clause which empowered the Centre to change provisions on the recommendations of the GST Council without approval of the legislature was also rejected by a voice-vote.
Alleging that there is total confusion over the outcome of the implementation of the Bill on the state's economy, Mishra said it seems it is a gameplan of corporate houses and rich to exploit the poor as has been said by a BJD MP in Parliament.
Mishra said everything should not be left to the GST Council which will never protect the interest of Odisha. He also referred to the confusion in the Bill provisions as to whether individual farmers will be exempted from paying GST. He demanded that the Bill should be referred to the select committee for
Making a statement while moving the OGST Bill, 2017 and Odisha Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017, finance minister Sashi Bhusan Behera maintained that the GST will simplify tax administration, the latter will allow the state to impose VAT on only on six items.
Stating that GST will unify at least 17 central and state taxes together, Behera said products manufactured in the states as well as in the country could compete with products in the international market. "GST will help extend tax network and bring improvement in the tax administration," he said.
Leader of the BJP Legislature Party KV Singhdeo described the Bill as a progressive legislation which will simplify the tax structure. Initiating the debate, Naba Kishore Das (Cong) argued that since GST Council is all powerful, the state govenrment will not be a position to protect its interest. He advocated for a 4-day special session to discuss the GST Bill after it got nod of the select committee.
Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati alleged that the Bill will have negative impact on the state's economy and described it as anti-poor and anti-labourer.
Government chief whip Amar Prasad Satpathy, however, praised the NDA government for passing of the GST Bill in Parliament. "While the UPA-I and UPA-II could not bring consensus on the Bill, the NDA government did it," Satpathy said adding that the Centre has assured to compensate the state's loss for implementation of GST.