The Himachal Pradesh Assembly today unanimously passed the Himachal Pradesh Goods and Services Bill 2017 envisaging ‘one country one cess’ and paving the way for the roll out of GST regime from July 1. The Bill introduced by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh received unequivocal support from both sides of the House. Singh said the Bill would help in improving the Gross National Domestic Product (GSDP) by 1.5 to 2 per cent and also benefit the people as well the industry.
Crediting the Congress governments for initiating tax reforms, that started in 1986 and culminated in passage of GST, the senior party leader said a Tax Reform Committee was constituted in 1991, followed by a Committee of Chief Minister in 1999. And the recommendations made by the Chief Minister’s committee were implemented in 2003 in the form of VAT (Value Added Tax). Singh also mentioned that former Union finance minister P Chidambaram had first introduced the GST in his budget speech of 2006-07. He said the UPA-II government had tried hard to get the GST implemented and then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had introduced the GST Bill for the first time in the Parliament in 2010-10, but the bill was sent to the Standing Committee of Parliament after a consensus could not be reached.
He said the bill was finally brought by the NDA and it got the parliamentary approval as opposition parties, including Congress, were already in support of the idea of ‘One Nation-One Tax.’ Supporting the bill, Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal said GST was the greatest tax reform since independence.
He said India had joined the league of 150 countries, where such revolutionary tax reforms had been introduced. He said more than 7 per cent daily use items were kept out of the GST, while only 5 per cent GST would be levied on 14 per cent items. “Out of the remaining items, 17 per cent of these would attract GST at a rate of 12 per cent and 18 per cent GST would be charged on 43 per cent items. In order to augment the tax revenue, 19 per cent items were brought under GST slap of 28 per cent but these items are not used by common people,” Dhumal said.
He said the transparent structure of GST would help improve the overall tax base of the country and curb the menace of corruption. He also said that people with an annual turnover of less than Rs 10 lakh would not be required to get registered under GST. Transport Minister G S Bali said the NDA government must appreciate the cooperation extended by Congress for passage of the GST Bill in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The two-day special session of the state assembly was adjourned sine die after passing the GST Bill.