GST debate live: 7 hours allotted for landmark tax reform as Modi government eyes a July 1 launch


NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday moved the four GST Bills for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha.

The Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill, 2017, along with three other GST Bills were moved for consideration in the lower house.

The CGST Bill will enable levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods and services or both by the central government, the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, which provides for the levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply.

The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) provides for compensation to the states for the loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the GST.

The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, will enable levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods and services or both by the union territories.

For GST, 7 hours have been allotted for today’s debate, with union minister Arun Jaitley putting his argument first for this reform. Congress is likely to move amendments to the GST bills, but the leadership has advised its MPs that they should not come across as blocking the tax reform.

Here’s what the FM said in the Parliament:

  • It is a revolutionary bill which will benefit all.
  • Before the constitutional amendment, under the indirect tax regime Centre had right for implementing some taxes…. The discussion had been on for long for uniform tax system under which states and the Centre will share the tax collection.
  • GST consists of Central GST, State GST, Integrated GST and UT GST laws.
  • The four bills are being taken together because the matter of the bills are same.
  • GST council was made under Article 279 A. GST Council is India’s first federal structure with Constitutional status which will advise both Centre and State on GST.
  • 12 meetings of the GST council were held to make it a process based on consensus and recommendations.
  • There will be four tax rates, the highest being 28 percent. But luxury products and sin products like tobacco products will attract extra amount. For five years, these will be considered as compensation cess and it will go to compensation fund. This money will go to states which suffer losses.

Congress’ reaction:

  • There are several sections for which no groups were created.
  • No clarity regarding various special regions including SEZs.
  • GST’s anti-profiteering laws are draconian.
  • GST will increase paper works substantially in matter of inter-state movement of goods.
  • There are too many tax rates; virtually seven are there under the GST bill. One nation, one tax is a myth.
  • GST Council is only an coordinating body and cannot be a substitute of a legislative body. This is a very serious matter. This is fundamentally a contradiction of constitutional provisions regarding the relation between state and union. Under GST, Centre can issue dictates.
  • What you have brought today is not a game changer but only a baby step.
  • There is no clarity how it going to address the concerns of tax payers.
  • Categorisation has not been done. For instance, is Kitkat a chocolate or a biscuit? Such things will lead to harassment and will create lobbies.
  • There will be a turf war by bringing a new tax regime in the midst of a financial year. What was a dream of single tax regime has now turned to a five tax regime with lot of uncertainties.
  • This can never be a game changer, it’s just a baby step. No anti-inflationary measure are there.
  • Intentions may be good but you will create anarchy.