The all-party consultative group, constituted by the Jammu and Kashmir government to evolve consensus over the implementation of the GST in the state, met here today, but the main opposition parties – the National Conference (NC) and the Congress boycotted the meet. The NC and Congress said they refrained from the meeting as the government failed to circulate draft proposal. The consultative group met here this afternoon under the chairmanship of former deputy chief minister and Member of Parliament, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, an official spokesman said. The invitation for the meeting was extended to the members by the Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu.
He said the members of the group include Abdul Rahim Rather from the NC, M Y Tarigami from the CPI(M), Nizam-ud-Din Bhat from the PDP, Sunil Sethi from the BJP, Aijaz Ahmad Khan from the Congress, Hakeem Muhammad Yasin of the PDF, Ghulam Hassan Mir of the DNP and independent MLAs Pawan Gupta and Sheikh Abdul Rashid. Except the representatives from the NC and the Congress, all other members of the consultative group were present at the meeting.
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Minister for Law and Justice, Abdul Haq, Minister for Finance, Haseeb Drabu, Chief Secretary B B Vyas, Finance Secretary Navin Kumar Choudhary, Commissioner Commercial Taxes M I Khateeb and other senior officers of the Finance and Law Departments also attended the meeting, the spokesman said. He said at the onset, on the request of the chair, the meeting observed two-minute silence as mark of respect for DSP Mohammad Ayub Pandith who was lynched outside Jamia Masjid here on Thursday night.
The meeting held threadbare discussions over the legal, legislative, financial and economic aspects of the GST regime with the chairman explaining in detail the nuances of the new tax regime. There was a general consensus in the meeting that non implementation of GST regime would trigger economic and financial chaos in the state with the inter-state trade vis- a-vis Jammu and Kashmir taking a big hit, the spokesman said.
He said the meeting, at the same time, called for allaying the apprehensions and misconceptions that have been passed on to the people for political expediencies. Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting, Beigh said there was unanimity in the forum on either of the three paths to be followed on GST which include taking further time to build wider political consensus, taking the matter to the legislature and allowing the state cabinet to take a call on the issue in light of the Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional position.
This is the second attempt by the government to evolve consensus over GST implementation in the state. Earlier, an all-party meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was convened on the issue on June 13. Meanwhile, the Congress said the party refrained from the meeting because of the non-serious attitude of the government. The party also blamed the PDP-BJP coalition of being in a state of confusion over the GST, as a result of which, the trade bodies in the entire state were in dilemma. “The party decided to refrain from the meeting as the government failed to circulate draft proposal, as was agreed earlier, to enable the parties to debate and discuss the GST at length in order to evolve a consensus,” a party spokesman said.
He said despite the pressing demand from the opposition for the draft proposal, nothing was done, which has sent confusing signals among the entire political spectrum in the state. The spokesman said the chief minister had agreed in the all-party meet that draft proposal would be circulated to every political party, but, despite that, nothing was done. He said one fails to understand that on the one hand the PDP-BJP coalition is in a hurry to implement the GST, but on the other hand, the government is not even able to circulate a draft proposal, which is indicative of double standards and ill intentions on the part of the coalition.
The National Conference also stayed away from the meeting for the same reasons. “The invitation for the meeting reached us at 12 pm today and then the government did not send a draft proposal to us which we could have discussed first,” NC provincial president Kashmir, Nasir Aslam Wani, said. Wani said the chief minister had agreed in the all-party meet that draft proposal would be circulated to every political party, but no such thing happened. “We had to discuss the draft within our party first and then we could have send our representative to the meeting. “There was no fun in sending a representative without any internal discussions, so we boycotted the meet,” he said.