Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the Centre was trying earnestly to build a consensus with the states on the sticky issue of sharing of administrative control on assessees to ensure that the April 1 deadline for rolling out the goods and service tax (GST) was met. “We are making all efforts to introduce GST from April 1, 2017. GST has to be implemented latest by September 16, 2017, and if it is not implemented by then, states will not be able to collect their share of taxes, and hence, there is not enough scope to further delay the decision,” Jaitley said at an economic editors’ conference here.
The minister was referring to the GST Constitutional Amendment, which has a provision in this regard.
After deciding the GST rate structure a day earlier, the Centre and states hit a speed breaker on November 4 as they could not decide on how the audit and enforcement powers would be shared between them in the GST regime.
The Union and state finance ministers would meet informally on November 20 to solve the issue politically and suggest their formula to the GST Council meeting on November 24-25 for endorsement. In the meantime, officials from both sides are deliberating to finalise the four draft laws — those on central GST (CGST), integrated GST (IGST), compensation and state GST (SGST) — by November 15. The Centre is trying to introduce CGST, IGST and compensation Bills in the winter session of Parliament later this month.
“Only the last stages (of decision-making) remain and I do hope we (GST Council) are able to resolve that too, through a larger consensus,” Jaitley said.
The government has covered a lot of distance for implementation of comprehensive indirect tax and it was not in favour of resorting to voting to decide on any issue at the GST Council meeting. “We have already sorted out 10 issues. The issue of dual control still remains, there is no reason why we will not be able to work out a reasonable solution on this,” he said.
The GST Council, chaired by the Union finance minister, has already decided on a four-tier rate structure – 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. An additional cess would be imposed on the peak rate on select luxury and demerit goods to compensate states for any revenue loss under the GST regime.
The Centre was forced to reopen the settled matter that goods traders/manufacturers with annual turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore would be under the states’ exclusive control. This was when the states wanted service tax assessees below the threshold also under their control in the light of new data that revealed there are 30 lakh such entities.
Pertinently, in the GST regime, the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) will handle the taxpayer returns based on the principle of self-assessment. “One of the objects has been that, since the GST council is a federal decision-making process and the manner in which it functions in the initial years will lay down the precedent for the future rather than resorting to voting and division in every small issue. We have been trying to discuss, re-discuss and then reach a consensus and so far we have been able to resolve most of the major issues through consensus,” Jaitley said.