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18 May 2017

GST meet at Srinagar to send political message?

GST Council in Srinagar

The GST council is holding its 14th meeting in Srinagar today. It will be attended by finance ministers of all 32 states and union territories.

Analysts speculate that holding the meeting in J&K, marred by separatist violence, is indicative of the state government's willingness to improve participation in national issues.

J&K FM Haseem Drabu said GST was the most significant tax reform since independence.

In context

GST Council in Srinagar

What will be discussed in the meeting?

The meeting will be chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Finance ministers are likely to decide on tax rates before the scheduled GST rollout from July 1. The tax brackets are 5, 12, 18 or 28%.


Elements trying to destroy Kashmir peace

Kashmir has been engulfed in turmoil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terror commander Burhan Wani.

More recently, the National Conference also played the separatist card in its campaign for the state by-elections.

Residents stated that financiers of separatists are well funded and see no reason in halting their activities for the sake of peace in the state.

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Kashmir looking for greater integration with India

J&K already moved on several initiatives put forward by the Centre including a January-December financial year and a universal benefits policy.

State finance minister Haseeb Drabu said "We could look at agreements that the GST council is expected to reach...as a 'Srinagar Declaration'."

He said "we will take it to assembly and get the GST law passed...in the last week of June."

FM Drabu is all praise for Centre

State Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said, "In 1991 the entire economic regime was changed and no state was consulted. Today, even on a change in rate, everybody is consulted. This is the emergence of a new federal India."

Local media highlighting GST


Local media highlighting GST

Local newspapers in Kashmir were quick to cover the GST and papers were filled with reports on the details of the bill.

The Greater Kashmir even wrote "This is the first time when such a major policy decision would be taken in Srinagar in past six decades."

However, several separatist publications also lambasted the move saying local business would be affected.


Opposition to the GST

Several local business associations and even separatists have lambasted the move as an attempt for the Centre to impose GST on Kashmir and erode its financial independence.

Farooq Dar, Co Chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance said "J&K state is not like any other state in India. It has as special status guaranteed under article 370 under which this law can't be implemented here."

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