Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said the Congress government was committed to implementing the GST with minimum pain, if any, to the trade and industry in the state. Addressing the state Assembly here this evening, the chief minister said he had asked the State Excise and Taxation Department not to pursue provisions of the act requiring arrest for defaults in implementation of the GST Act. The government shall give enough time to trade, industry and business to adopt the GST procedures, he said, adding that his government had also decided to appoint a tax ombudsman to address public grievances objectively and impartially. While the state finance minister would spell out in detail the measures his government intended to take to tackle the fiscal crisis, the focus would be mainly on financial prudence, strict financial discipline and accountability, said the chief minister. The measures aimed at creation of wealth in agriculture, industry and service sectors which generate more employment would receive greater attention, he said.
The government would endeavour to expand the base of the economy, with increase in trade, business and industry, instead of making the tax structure more oppressive as allegedly done by the previous government, he assured the House. The Punjab State Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, 2017, was passed unanimously by the state Assembly here today. On the excise and taxation issues impacting the state’s governance, the chief minister said the “distortions in tax policies and laws encouraged by the previous government could be fully seen through the collections of taxes in the state”.
“They never achieved the projections of taxes made by them during the last ten years, and had suffered losses of over Rs 13,000 crore on this score only,” he said, promising to reverse the declining trend in the state’s economy and put it once again on the path of high-trajectory growth. The chief minister referred to the new Excise Policy 2017-18 introduced by his government and the steps being taken for rationalisation of all levies, underlining his commitment to ensure level playing field for the state’s industry, trade and business. He shared that the government had successfully conducted excise auctions for the year 2017-18 and realized Rs 1,016 crore (23.1 per cent) more than the previous year 2016-17. The government, he said, had also decided to remove bottlenecks in free movement of goods vehicles, and also the Information Collection Centers of the Department of Excise and Taxation subsequent to the successful implementation of GST in the state.