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Govt pushes through GST Bill, FM Jaitley allays fears

Keeping the poll promise to overhaul the taxation system, the Central government on Friday managed to introduce much-awaited GST Bill in the Lok Sabha by saying that concerns of all the states have been taken care of and they would benefit from the ‘win-win’ measure. As per government this Bill is ‘single biggest tax reform’ since Independence. With just a two working days of the House in hand, the Centre will take up Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill in the next session of the Parliament, which will commence on February.

While introducing the bill, which was cleared by the Cabinet on Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill will be taken up in the next session of Parliament and we will be open to all suggestions till the very last minute. We have made sure that no state will lose a rupee of revenue. It will be a win-win situation.”

The finance minister further said that states would be compensated on account of GST and the first instalment would be made before March 31 next year. Seeking to allay apprehensions of states, Jaitley, who spoke on the bill in Rajya Sabha also, said their interests would be more than adequately protected and he did not foresee a situation where states would be the losers.

The GST will incorporate indirect taxes like excise duty and service tax on the central front and VAT on the state level, besides local levies. There are differences between the Centre and states on some issues with regard to  implementation of GST that includes the revenue neutral rate and keeping petroleum, liquor out of the ambit.

He said the government would give ‘constitutional assurance’ in terms of compensating the possible losses incurred by states. GST reform would not weaken ‘co-operative federalism’.
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