Government still looking at July 1 for GST rollout, says FM Jaitley

Posted April 07, 2017

Manmohan Singh today prevailed upon the Congress not to try to score political points by pressing amendments to the GST bills in the Rajya Sabha, facilitating their return to the Lok Sabha unchanged.

The four bills are the Central Goods and Services Tax Bill (CGST), the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill (IGST) the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Bill and the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill (UTGST).

The anti-profiteering provision was introduced by the Indian government to ensure that any tax benefit caused by GST would be passed on to consumers through lower priced goods and services, and not serve to benefit companies.

"Although the GST is scheduled to be implemented with effect from July 1, the new tax rollout should be delayed by at least a quarter as industry, especially small-time assesees, would require time to prepare themselves to migrate to the new tax regime", AITAF President M.K. Gandhi said in a statement here. It is widely hailed as the biggest revamp of the tax regime since the country's independence in 1947.

"Yesterday, the former Prime Minister advised me not to move the amendment as it will disturb the fine consensus that has been arrived at in the GST Council".

The Union Cabinet approved the four GST-related Bills on March 20.

Jaitley said the successive governments have contributed towards the GST and no one person can take credit for it.

With regard to agriculture products, the Finance Minister said those farm products which are exempt, will remain exempted.

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"We have had 14 meetings at the GST Council...and arrived at a consensus on all issues", he said, adding there has been no voting on any issue. Basis the GST implementation experience in most countries, India may witness an inflationary impact during the transition phase, which should fade away with the legislation sinking in and operationalizing of measures like anti-profiteering.

He said the GSTN has been designed in such a manner that it can not be audited by CAG and RTI too does not apply to it. "The present status quo will continue", he said.

CPI leader D Raja said increasing the slabs of indirect taxes will put a burden on common people.

Jaitley said the cess would be transient for a period of 5 years so that the proceeds can be utilised to compensate the states.

The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend the Customs Act, 1962, the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, the Central Excise Act, 1944, the Finance Act, 2001 and the Finance Act, 2005.

Regarding concerns expressed by some members on the structure of GST Network, the IT brain of the GST, Jaitley said this had been thought over properly during the UPA government.

With some members raising concerns about the structure of GST Network which include some private players, the minister said that the present structure was created to hire the best talent pool and can be changed anytime.

The balance 51 per cent equity is with non-government financial institutions - HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, NSE Strategic Investment Co and LIC Housing Finance Ltd.

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