With less than a month left for the rollout of the GST, the ‘Karnataka Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017’ was unanimously passed by the state assembly here today. Before Karnataka, as many as 24 states and Union Territories had passed the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) bill in their respective legislative assemblies. 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. Piloting the bill, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the state has always been at the forefront of issues like implementing tax reforms, including VAT. “Even the World Bank has acknowledged Karnataka as the most progressive states in implementing tax reforms,” he added.
Countering this, Vishweshwara Hegade Kageri (BJP) said the image of the state took a hit for not being the first state to pass the SGST bill, especially after being the first state to implement VAT. “Karnataka should have been first to have agreed to implement GST, especially after the state was first to implement VAT in the country… But this did not happen… This is one of the examples where it hurt the image of Karnataka being a progressive state,” the BJP leader said. Kageri also slammed Siddaramaiah for not agreeing to implement GST on earlier occasions despite 50 percent of the states agreeing to do so. “Everybody knows the hurdles created by your party (Congress) in parliament to stall the bill, which was your own baby,” he argued.
Taking an indirect dig at BJP-ruled states, Siddaramaiah said as many as 24 states and one union territory have agreed to implement GST, but initially Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were against it. Siddaramaiah also said since parliament has already passed GST Bill, the state assembly did not have much scope to debate over it because decision-making powers are vested with the GST Council. However, suggestions submitted by members will be presented during GST Council meetings, he added. The Chief Minister said he did not attend the GST Council meetings because he did not get time and had deputed Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda.