Calling the roll-out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 1, 2017 a “very stiff target”, the BJP-led NDA government is nonetheless trying hard. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the government is “running against time” for the implementation of GST, but added that he would certainly like to give it a try.
Dubbed as the biggest tax reform since Independence, the law was finally passed unanimously in the monsoon session after Centre held hectic parleys with the Opposition, especially the Congress party.
“We have kept a very stiff target and the reason is that there is a great national aspiration in support of a reform that GST is, and state after state within a period of 20-25 days have kept on ratifying it because they stand to benefit the most,” Jaitley said at the Economist India Summit event in New Delhi.
The procedural formalities of collecting proceedings of all the states and sending it to the President for ratification are on, he added.
Being a constitutional amendment bill, the GST has to be passed by at least 15 legislative assemblies. Once the assent is granted by President Pranab Mukherjee, the constitution amendment bill will have to be notified.
After notification and constitution of the GST Council, the Union Finance minister said, there are obviously some pending issues, which the council will have to resolve.
“So we have the months of September and October and parts of November to do that. So there is a lot of work to do and if you are able to successfully transact those issues, then in the winter session of Parliament the central legislations, with some drafts in public domain, will have to be brought in,” he said.
“The states will have to pass their own legislations. Now if we look ahead, it’s a very stiff target, we are running against time. I would certainly like to give it a try,” Jaitley said when asked about the timeframe for implementation of the GST.
Once rolled-out, the GST will replace a raft of different state and local taxes with a single unified value added tax system. The legislation was approved by the Upper House last month with 203 votes in favour and none against, after a seven-hour debate.
“If you ask me in terms of economic priorities even outside parliament I would say that certainly implementation of GST is the top priority…,” Jaitley told the audience.
(With inputs from the PTI)