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Govt may advance Parliament session to get GST laws approved

Monday, August 29, 2016
By A Business Reporter

Eager to meet the April 1 target to roll out the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST), the government may advance Winter Session of Parliament by a fortnight to get supporting legislations passed, leaving sufficient time for implementation of the new indirect tax regime.

Winter Session of Parliament is normally convened in the third or fourth week of November but this year the government is looking at starting the month-long session immediately after the end of festive season.

An early Winter Session would help get the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) legislations, that will pave way for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to be approved within November or latest by early December, government officials said.

The two are supporting legislations to the Constitutional Amendment Bill approved in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. Requiring ratification by half of the 31 states for it to become a law, the Constitution Amendment Bill has already been ratified by 8 state assemblies including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.

Maharashtra and Haryana are likely to follow suit soon and the requisite numbers may be in place by September, an official said.

“With required number of states ratifying the Bill, there is a thinking that the Winter Session should be advanced to around November 9 or 10, after the festivities, including Chhath Puja,” he said. “In doing that, a consensus with all the political parties will be needed.”

The government is of the view that once half of the state legislatures approve the new national sales tax regime, the GST Council – comprising Union finance minister and state finance ministers, can be nudged to quickly approve the tax rate, slabs and exemptions for it to be incorporated in the supporting legislations.

Parliament nod to the legislations in the Winter Session would give enough time to prepare for the rollout of GST from April 1, 2017. The new regime will subsume excise, service tax and other local levies including VAT, octroi.

Government is of the view that an early Winter Session will also be beneficial as the Budget Session is planned to be convened in the last week of January.

“Presentation of Budget around end-January is under consideration and hence an early Winter Session also paves way for an early Budget Session,” the official said.

The revenue department and the state finance ministers are already in discussion with the trade and industry chambers and other stake holders over the model GST law.

The Empowered Committee of state finance ministers will meet industry chambers on August 30 to understand their concerns about the new indirect tax regime.

The CGST and IGST will be drafted on the basis of the model GST law. The states will draft their respective State GST (SGST) laws with minor variation incorporating state-based exemption. The IGST law would deal with inter-state movement of goods and services.

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