Jammu and Kashmir passed the resolution to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu assuring that constitutional safeguards be provided to the state considering its special status, according to the Indian Express. The state assembly witnessed heated debates on the new tax reform which was launched on July 1. Drabu on the second day of the debate said, “There would be enough safeguards to the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.” After the discussion in the Assembly, the J&K Cabinet approved the implementation of GST. It will now be passed to the Governor who will seek the order of the President to implement the tax in the state. The Finance Minister in a congratulatory note, tweeted, “Congratulations to the people of J&K for integration of the state with the #GST. J&K is a consuming state and #GST will help it to increase revenue for the state. The consumers in J&K will benefit from #GST. No tax payment twice over.”
Sources told the Indian Express that the GST rates that would be applied would be approved by the GST Council and the state government would decide the fiscal autonomy on expenditure. The Oppositional National Conference in Srinagar called this development “theatrics”. Drabu on the other hand listed out five points on how the government would protect the special status of the state, reported the paper. Here’s a snippet of what the Finance Minister said:
1. Despite the new tax regime in place, Section 5 of the state’s Constitution that provides an exclusive taxation process would be protected.
2. The special status given to J&K in Article 370 will not be compromised under the President’s orders.
3. Enough Safeguards will be provided by the GST Council to empower the state.
4. The GST Council would fall under Article 370.
5. State government’s exclusive power to set up taxes would not be at risk.
However, Drabhu did not explain how these would be implemented which led to the Opposition raising slogans, the Indian Express reported. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned the resolution and tweeted, “With absolutely no clarity of what “constitutional safeguards” the BJPDP Govt in J&K has agreed with the centre the sham resolution passes.” Drabu described the GST as the “biggest democratisation of public expenditure in the world.”