Rajya Sabha Undermined, Members Should Quit: Congress During GST Debate

Touted as the biggest taxation reform since Independence, GST will subsume central excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies to create an uniform market.

-Anti-profiteering measure: The central government may by law set up an authority to examine if reduction in tax rate has resulted in commensurate reduction in prices of goods and services.

India's finance minster Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday he was "reasonably hopeful" of rolling out Goods and Services Tax (GST) on July 1, 2017.

Actual tax rates would be as per four-tier rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent as approved by the GST Council. Terming the GST bill to be a "revolutionary" bill, Jaitley said that it was going benifit all. The IGST law provides for a maximum tax of 40 percent.

"The Finance Bill is a sad commentary on the government's conduct, hell bent on destroying the relevance of the Rajya Sabha", the Congress leader said.

The CGST Bill will allow the Centre to levy and collect GST on intra-state supply of goods or services. "Its is federal contract with constitutional sanction", Jaitley said.

Every taxpayer should self-assess and file tax returns on a monthly basis by submitting: (i) details of supplies provided, (ii) details of supplies received, and (iii) payment of tax. Jaitley further said that the GST Council will have 32 members, including the Union Finance Minister and the Finance Ministers of 29 states and two Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry, which have state legislatures. The law provides for arrest, ordered by no less than a Tax Commissioner, in case of suppression of any transaction or evading taxes. A person convicted is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and/or fine. The respective states will be paid compensation within the existing mechanism. GST is expected to boost GDP growth by about 2 per cent and check tax evasion. He said the GST legislation was an example of how the government is pursuing a "chalta hai" (casual) attitude as there was not enough provision to protect the common people.

But at least one policy wonk, Meghanad S, who calls himself a resident policy nerd at the office of MP Tathagata Satpathy, has criticised the Compensation Tax provision that hopes to make good the losses incurred by the states on account of the new GST bill.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the entire nation over the passage of the Bill. However, the opposition party, Congress, had said that the bills in the present form is not acceptable and their speakers will demand changes.

The Cabinet had approved these four bills on 20 March, after the GST Council cleared these along with the state GST Bill in its last meeting earlier this month.

  • Joanne Flowers