Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh ratify GST bill

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New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh on Monday ratified the constitutional amendment bill for the goods and services tax (GST), the former becoming the first Congress-ruled state to ratify the legislation.

“Himachal Vidhan Sabha has passed the GST bill. With this bill, it will ease the burden of crores of rupees on the state of Himachal,” chief minister Virbhadra Singh told reporters.

Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh join Assam, Jharkhand and Bihar in endorsing the bill. While Assam and Jharkhand are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bihar, led by the Janata Dal (United) government, became the first non-BJP-governed state to ratify the bill.

The Congress had initially opposed the bill, forcing nearly a year’s delay. It was only after the BJP-led central government conceded some of its demands that the party rallied behind the legislation.

“Today, Chhattisgarh assembly unanimously ratified the historic GST constitution amendment bill. I thank everyone for their support. Heralding of GST era will reinforce CG’s revenue, improve in ease of doing business & make taxation system more transparent,” Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh tweeted.

The 122nd constitution amendment bill received parliamentary approval earlier this month. The bill needs to be ratified by 50% of Indian states before it can be sent for presidential assent.

Mint reported last week that other states are in the process of calling a special sitting of legislative assemblies to ratify the GST bill. This includes the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal assembly and the BJP-led governments in Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra.

GST is a far-reaching tax reform that aims to forge a common market and remove inter-state barriers to movement of trade in goods and services. It will subsume most indirect taxes levied by the centre and the states, including excise duty, service tax, value-added tax, luxury tax, entertainment tax and entry tax.