Concerns arise over success of GST Council’s informal meet

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Ahead of the GST Council’s informal meeting on Sunday, concerns have started emanating over its ability to take the crucial consensus-based decision as the stand of political parties remains unclear following the vehement opposition towards demonetisation.

After the previous GST Council meet remained inconclusive on the issue of dual control, or cross-empowerment, on who will exercise control over GST assessees — the Centre or the states, the government sought an informal meeting on November 20 hoping to reach a consensus by a political push.

The meeting to be held on Sunday will be attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the state finance ministers without the other officials. A formal meet will then be held on November 24-25 hoping to finally reach a consensus on the issue.

But post the November 8 demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes that has riled the opposition, the problems remain grave as the state finance ministers belong to different political parties, and are unlikely to arrive at any consensus-based decision.

“Functionally, you can’t have two authorities competing for the same GST assessee. This situation has to be avoided. There has to be clearly defined guidelines as to who will assess whom,” Jaitley has said, adding this is what the political leadership in the council will discuss informally, sans aides or officials.

“Since it is a complex matter, we do not want to rush. It (dual control) has to be a well thought of solution for which we are going systematically. Five different proposals came in this regard, out of which the discussions revolves around two,” he had said.

The November 24-25 meeting of the GST is slated to discuss the four GST draft bills — Central GST, State GST, Integrated GST and state compensation matter for revenue losses — which will have to be passed by Parliament and state assemblies after the Council approves them.

The target rollout of GST will depend on the passage of the Central GST and the Integrated GST (iGST) bills in Parliament and the state GST bills by the respective states.

The government has targeted implementing the GST across India from April 1, 2017.

GST is a single indirect tax that proposes to subsume most central and state taxes, like the value added tax, service tax, central sales tax, excise duty, additional customs duty and special additional customs duty.