The GST Bill (Goods and Services Tax Bill), officially known as The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 is a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services in India. The single pan-India tax will replace the excise duty, countervailing duty and service tax, as also state taxes such as value added tax, entry tax and luxury tax.
The Central and State Government will be implementing this bill concurrently as India is a federal republic.
The legislative assembly of Assam became the first state to unanimously approve the GST Bill on 13th August, 2016. The Congress and AIUDF MLAs in Assam had initially sought a discussion in the Assembly to ascertain the impact of the Bill on the people of Assam as well as the state. However this request was turned down by the Speaker, and the Bill was then unanimously approved. The aim of being the first state to approve and implement the bill was to send a positive signal to the industry as per the wish of Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal. Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We have always lagged behind, but want to be the first in passing this Bill. This is a historic proposal. I thank the Speaker for allowing us to introduce it today after we informed him just last night.” The Bill was introduced by Sarma on behalf of the Chief Minister of Assam.
The Central Government has been putting in efforts to get the all the states onboard the GST manifesto and aims at implementing the new tax regime by April, 2017. Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister, had announced that the bill has to be rolled out by all the states by April 1st, 2017. The bill needs to be ratified before it can be adopted by 16 of the 31 states including the assemblies of Union Territories Delhi and Puducherry. Once ratified, the bill will then be sent to the GST Council (GSTC) which will arrive at the new tax rate. Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had said, “We are hopeful that both bills (Central GST and Inter-state GST) will be tabled in the winter session. I have already spoken to 15 chief ministers.”
The GST Bill will have the following features:
- 42% of the Central Government GST portion will be given back to the State.
- The GST will cater for a special concession offer in case the NE & Himalayan states request a reduction in tax for a valid reason.
- In case of requirement of additional revenue in emergency situations of natural calamity like floods and earthquakes, GST will allow the State Government to collect special taxes as long as it is approved by GSTC.
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted saying, “Happy to share that Assam assembly has unanimously ratified the GST Bill.” “Proud that Assam is the First state to ratify historic GST Bill, which promises to transform India.”
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