With less than a month left for the rollout of the GST, the Karnataka government today tabled in the state assembly a bill required for implementing the new indirect tax regime. The ‘Karnataka Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017’ was tabled by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who holds the finance portfolio. A workshop will also be held to apprise the legislators of the salient features of the proposed legislation, as demanded by a few members. So far, 24 states and Union Territories have passed the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) Act in their respective legislative assemblies. Karnataka is among the seven states that are yet to pass the SGST law. As per the GST Constitutional Amendment, all states have to pass SGST bills by September 15, 2017, failing which they will lose their taxation powers.
The government plans to roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will subsume 16 different taxes, from July 1. As the Chief Minister introduced the bill, JD(S) members raised questions about it and demanded that the government “enlighten” the members about the contents and the need for the bill. Responding to this, Siddaramaiah said “GST aims to bring one uniform tax across the country. The bill that we have introduced today is just a formality as the GST bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, after having due consultations with all states.” JD(S) members Y S V Datta and Shivalinge Gowda argued that the contents of GST and its impact on the state’s finances should be made known to the members.
“We don’t know GST and how it works. The government should give details to us about it and its impact on the state. We cannot approve the bill as a formality just because it has been passed by Parliament,” Gowda said. Intervening, Leader of the Opposition Jagdish Shettar (BJP) advised the government to conduct a workshop-like session for MLAs by experts on the lines of the one being organised for the Legislative Council members. Both the Chief Minister and Speaker K B Koliwad agreed to organise a similar workshop for the MLAs. Siddaramaiah also took potshots at JD(S) for expressing “reservations” about the bill and questioned whether their party supremo H D Deve Gowda was also opposed to GST.
He said GST had been approved by Parliament and a Council consisting of representatives from all states was working towards its implementation. “It is true that those states that were collecting more taxes may face some issues, but it has been said that if the collection is less than average, it will be compensated,” Siddaramaiah added. The Karnataka Sales Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was also introduced in the Assembly today. It said a tax on petrol, high-speed diesel, aviation turbine fuel, crude oil and natural gas shall be levied from a date that the GST Council may decide. Till then and even after that, the state will be empowered to levy the tax on the sale of these products, hence it is considered to amend the Act, the bill said in its statement of objects and reasons.