DEHRADUN: The State Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was tabled in the Uttarakhand assembly amid din on the first day of the two-day special session with opposition Congress going hammer and tongs at chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s government on issues such as hike in prices of foodgrain for Above Poverty Line (APL) category and lack of healthcare facilities in hilly terrains, among others.
Introducing the Bill in the assembly, finance minister Prakash Pant said it would help streamline the entire indirect tax regime in the country, which would be beneficial to the traders as well as the state government.
The finance minister said, “The state will earn more revenues in the GST regime, which will also benefit both traders and consumers, because it is a single tax system. After the implementation, the seven state’s taxes will end.”
The minister said the state finance ministry was gearing up for the smoother migration of traders from the existing system to the GST regime. “At present, the state government has registered 75,478 traders, out of the total 97,907, who were in our VAT network. The work of taking all of them is going on a war footing so that by July 1 everything is in place,” said Pant.
Speaking in the House before question hour, leader of opposition Indira Hridayesh criticised the government on the issue of price hike of foodgrain for APL category. Dubbing the price hike of foodgrain for APL as “anti-poor”, former speaker and Jageshwar MLA Govind Singh Kunjwal slammed the BJP government for “reversing the decision taken by the previous government of providing subsidy in foodgrains”. While their party colleague Pritam Singh tried to corner the government on the issue of health facilities in hilly areas. Some Congress legislators raised slogans against the government over the alleged breaking of a statue of B R Ambedkar in Pithoragarh.
Although Speaker Premchandra Agarwal somehow managed to pacify the opposition MLAs, responding to their allegations Pant, who is also the parliamentary affairs minister, said, “More than 61 lakh people are covered under the National Food Security Mission. Besides, families having annual income of Rs 5 lakh will also be covered soon.”
Pant further said the government was providing both indoor and outdoor patient (IPD and OPD) facilities in hilly areas, and further works were being done under National Health Policy for improving health facilities.
However, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day after Congress MLAs continued with their protest.
Earlier, George Ivan Gregory Mann, the nominated member of the Anglo-Indian community, took oath as the 71st member of the assembly.
Speaking to TOI on the sidelines of today’s session, Pant said, “Under the GST, the state has been granted a special category, and the traders with a minimum turn of over Rs 10 lakh will be enrolled; the limit for enrolment in Uttar Pradesh is Rs 20 lakh.”
At the state government level, Pant said bolstering I-T set up would be top priority, which include new software and hi tech connectivity in the offices handling GST.
“The entire manpower of sales tax department is being trained about the new system like SWAN and installation of Radio Frequency based connectivity for internet connectivity in the offices,” said Pant.
The registration of traders takes place in GSTN, which is handled by the central government. “The traders complete registration online and are given a unique ID for monitoring and filing his tax details. The fact that all the filing of taxes and challan would take place online making it error free tax payment and monitoring,” said Pant.
On the type of traders, service tax slab and the negative list under GST, Pant said GST council would take a final call on the matter.
“A crucial meeting is scheduled to take place in Delhi, where the GST council would decide about the negative list, and other matters. The GST council had earlier decided to give 14% of extra revenue — for which the base figure of 2015-16 has been set — for the next five years in case the state to cover any possible losses.”
He added that the state’s tax collection was Rs 6096.24 crore in 2015-16, which grew up to Rs 7143.35 crore the following year.