December 9, 2016

GST dilemma: Hope fades for new tax regime

Demonetisation is on course to claim yet another victim. The roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime is set to miss the April 1, 2017 deadline.

It looks increasingly improbable that the three GST enabling Bills — Central GST, Integrated GST and State GST — could be passed in the remainder of the ongoing winter session of Parliament, which concludes on December 16.

The three GST Bills are money Bills to be taken up by the Lok Sabha. On Thursday, the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha, which allocates time for the Bills and discussions to be taken up for the forthcoming week, met but the government strategists didn’t ask the members to allocate time for the GST Bills for the next week.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has cautioned of a constitutional crisis if the GST is not rolled out by mid-September 2017, the one-year validity of the GST Constitution (amendment) Bill.  However, Yechury disagreed. “This might be his interpretation, but there are ways out of that imbroglio,” he said. Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap, a former Lok Sabha Secretary General, says such a situation was unlikely to arise, but even if it does there are ways out.

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