Council chaired by Jaitley moves into last lap, likely to clear draft for GST bill

Arun Jaitley to clear GST Draft Bill

The draft for the final goods and services tax bill to be tabled in Parliament is expected to be cleared at the two-day meeting of the council, which is responsible for all crucial steps to bring a uniform market in India.

The GST council, headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, will sit from Thursday to look into the draft bill that deals with levying goods and services tax in Union territories.

“The Centre has secured the council’s approval for two other draft bills — central GST and integrated GST. Another on possible compensation to the states is ready too.

The government plans to roll out the GST from July 1, after missing many deadlines.

The ruling BJP has issued a three-line whip, asking its members to be present in Parliament for the next three days of the budget session’s second half. The command hints at the probability that the GST bills will be introduced in Parliament as soon as possible.

The GST is designed to unify India into a single market, shore up tax revenues and accelerate economic growth by at least 2 percentage points in the medium term.

The two main bills aims to create a state-wise single registration for a taxpayer for filing returns, paying taxes and to fulfil other compliance requirements.

Most of the requirements would be fulfilled online leaving very little room for physical interface between the taxpayer and taxman.

The bills have incorporated an “anti-profiteering” provision to ensure that the reduction of tax incidence is passed on to the consumers. Farmers, however, have been kept out of the GST regime altogether.

Government sources said the GST legislation will likely be taken up as money bills during the budget session, which restarted on March 9 after a month-long recess.

The money bills can’t be rejected by the Rajya Sabha, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government doesn’t have a majority to push through key legislation.

The proposed GST will have four tax slabs. Farmers and small traders are exempt.

The GST council has broadly approved the four-slab structure of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. But several states want a higher cap.