PM Modi appeals for GST at an all party meeting
The GST, cleared by the Lok Sabha but stalled in the UPA-dominated Rajya Sabha, will be tabled in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament, starting today. Appealing at an all-party meeting, PM Modi said, "GST is of national importance. The issue is not which government gets credit." The Congress said it won't guarantee anything until it receives a "written draft" that addresses party's concerns.
What is GST?
The Goods and Service Tax will be a comprehensive nationwide indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India. GST will subsume excise, service tax, state VAT and other state levies. GST will be levied at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method, making manufacturing and inter-state transportation efficient.
What is the input tax credit method?
The input-tax-credit mechanism ensures that only the value addition is taxed at each stage of a supply chain. The consumer pays the final tax ensuring there is no cascading of taxes for the same input.
What is the background of the GST bill?
The GST bill was introduced by UPA in the year 2006, and has been stuck in parliament since then. A constitutional amendement is required for the passage of the bill, which needs to be passed with special majority in both houses of parliament. GST was passed in the Lok sabha on 6 May, 2015. The bill faced objections in Rajya Sabha by opposition parties.
Concerns raised by the opposition over GST
The Congress wants the rate of the goods-and-services tax to be capped at 18%. It also seeks to remove the proposed 1% additional levy on inter-state trade, as it dilutes the objective of creating a harmonised national market for goods and services. Finally, opposition parties demand the creation of an independent dispute redressal mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between the states.
Who are opposing the GST?
The Congress with 60 members and the Tamil Nadu parties, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) are opposing GST. Tamil Nadu sends 18 members to the Rajya Sabha, 16 of which oppose GST.
Main proposals by the government
Government recommended a standard rate of 16.9%-18.9% that would be applicable to most goods and services. The standard rate excludes real estate, electricity, alcohol and petroleum products. It had suggested a rate of 15-15.5% as the revenue-neutral rate. Parliament may, by law, provide compensation to states for any loss of revenue from the introduction of GST up to a five-year period.
What is the procedure to implement GST?
For any constituitonal amendment, at least 50% of the States' legislatures have to ratify them. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have to pass the GST bill followed by the states passing their own GST bills.
Mamata gives her support for GST
West bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee has supported the passage of the GST bill. Making her stand clear, she said "I am politically opposed to the BJP government. But it doesn't mean I would block the passage for the pro- people bill." Didi instructed her finance minister Dr Amit Mitra, to ensure the passage of the bill in the Monsoon session of parliament.
WB to host finance ministers' meet over GST
Acting on the directions of CM Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal is hosting the empowered committee of the state finance ministers on GST for a two-day-meeting, from 14-15 June. Observers state that this is Mamata's attempt at being a "progressive and industry friendly" figure in West Bengal. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to address the empowered committee members at the gathering.
Jaitley says all states except TN for GST
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed his pleasure at the fact that all states in India have approved the GST bill. However, he stated that Tamil Nadu "has some reservations" about the bill. He stated that the government has taken Tamil Nadu's recommendations into account and will work on making the GST bill acceptable to all states and territories.