GST rollout from April 1 tough, hints Pranab; to meet state FMs on Nov 10

Written by fe Bureaus | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 29 2009, 05:55am hrs
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday indicated that the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) from next April is a difficult task. We are trying (to bring in GST) let us see, Mukherjee said while inaugurating a meeting of finance secretaries and finance commissions of states.

To take stock of the preparations for the proposed levy, Mukherjee said he would conduct a meeting with state finance ministers over GST in early November. He was originally slated to meet the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers with the final draft of GST on October 27. But with no clarity on the rate structure, the meeting has now been shifted to November 10.

In fact, the Committees chairman Asim Dasgupta has now roped in the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) to estimate the taxpayer base for GST based on which the revenue neutral rates would be finalised. GST is scheduled to be introduced from April 1, 2010 but some states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are demanding that implementation of GST should be delayed.

The delay in finalising the rate structure means that the GST blueprint will also not be finalised on time. Further, it will also delay the Thirteenth Finance Commission, report, which has to factor the impact of GST on the Exchequer.

Meanwhile, addressing the conference on Wednesday Mukherjee stressed on the need for fiscal consolidation. It is expected that once the global economy begins to recover, the state governments would re-affirm their commitment to fiscal responsibility and be back onto the path of fiscal consolidation, he said.

He asked states to expedite implementation of externally-aided projects so that the benefits of development could reach the poor and the countrys image is enhanced abroad. An area of primary concern is a slow progress of externally-aided projects. Effective implementation of these projects not only benefits the areas of projects locations, but also enhances our image abroad and with the multilateral financial agencies, he said.

The finance minister also asked state governments to prepare the necessary groundwork for implementation of infrastructure projects in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. There is need to create an enabling environment by way of a suitable policy framework and create a shelf of PPP projects which could be taken up for financing, he stressed.