GST Bill set for prez assent, Odisha 16th state to ratify

GST Bill set for prez assent, Odisha 16th state to ratify

The Goods and Services Tax ( GST) Constitutional amendment Bill crossed an important landmark on Thursday with Odisha becoming the 16th state to ratify the Bill, paving the way for it to get Presidential assent.

Aware of the challenges that still lie ahead before the GST regime could be rolled out by April 1, 2017, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior bureaucrats were measured in their response.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lest it is yet again painted as ‘ suit- boot ki sarkar’, or a government of moneybags, as Congress vice- president Rahul Gandhi termed it when he criticised the government’s land Bill, was wary of extolling the virtues of the GST regime as a boon for ease of doing business. Instead, the BJP spokespersons insisted that the reform will be poor friendly since it will reduce corruption.

The BJP line is consistent with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who recently implored party chief ministers, leaders and Members of Parliament to showcase the Union government’s pro- poor, pro- farmer and pro- worker schemes and policies. The party leadership has been stressing on the fact that 65 of the 80 schemes launched by the Modi government since May 2014 are to be implemented by state governments.

The BJP and the government, while committed to GST reform, are keen to prevent arepeat of 2004 when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee- led government lost when its ‘ India Shining’ campaign boomeranged.

From the government side, finance ministry officials noted that Odisha became the 16th state to ratify the Bill. “The requisite numbers of states have ratified the GST Constitution Amendment Bill and now it can go for Presidential assent,” Finance Minister Jaitley tweeted.

In his tweets, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said: “Glad to inform that we are ahead of our schedule for implementation of GST so far. Instead of 30 days kept for this, it is achieved in 23 days. With Odisha ratifying the Constitutional Amendment Bill for GST, minimum requirement of 50 per cent states ratifying the Bill is complete.” The Bill will now be placed before President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent. This will pave the way for constituting the GST Council. The government hopes to roll out the new indirect tax regime by April 1. For this to happen, it needs to ensure the passage of supplementary GST Bills — the Central GST and Integrated GST— in the winter session of Parliament. There are suggestions that the winter session be advanced from its usual start in the third week of November to the first week. The states will also need to pass the State GST Bill.

Business Standard New Delhi, 02 September 2016