The Kerala government today introduced in the state assembly, the Kerala Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 and it was referred to the subject committee for further steps. Tabling the Bill, Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said that the state government was trying its best to implement the GST, which was passed by Parliament and which came into effect from July 1. Kerala would take up at the GST council meet tomorrow it’s demand for change in rate of tax for dozens of items, including that connected with agricultural equipment and medicine, he said. Isaac alleged that the state’s right to determine tax of a product have been taken away with GST. Pointing out that the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha before the LDF government came to power in May 2016,he claimed that the Centre’s stand on GST was taken only after the approval of the party, he added.
Isaac said that he agreed with the criticism that prices of essential commodities had not come down after GST was implemented. Members of ruling CPI(M) led LDF and Congress headed UDF who participated in the debate criticised GST and said it was leading to price rise of essential commodities in the country. Opposition leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala hit out at the government and said implemention of GST without any background work had led to confusion among traders. He also said GST was now being implemented by the BJP not in the framework planned by the Congress led UPA government.
V D Satheesan (Cong) said that prices of commodites have increased and also the inflation rate as GST regime has four tax slabs in place of three suggested by Congress.
M Swaraj (CPI-M) said that state government should not believe the promise of the Centre that it would compensate the losses to the state in the wake of implementation of GST. “BJP government does not have the practice of fulfilling promises’, he added. Suresh Kurup (CPI-M) alleged that the GST bill was a political agenda of RSS, “an outfit that has always opposed the pluralist tradition of the country.” Hitting out at the Finance Minister, P C George (Independent) said Isacc was implementing GST in Kerala with more enthusiam than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier during question hour, Isaac said the state would put pressure on Centre to start the Anti-Profiteering Authority. He said nearly 85 per cent of traders registered under VAT in the staet had migrated to GST.
To give effect to the GST in the state from July 1, the government had promulgated the Kerala Goods and Services Tax Ordinance, in June last. The Bill seeks to replace the ordinance by an act of the state legislature, it was stated.