GST Council Clears GST Bills, Pave Way for July Roll-Out

Here are the key highlights of the Budget Session 2018-19.

Moving a step closer to implementation of a new indirect tax regime, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday approved the crucial Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) bills.

With this, the compensation, IGST and CGST laws have now been cleared by the Council, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters on Saturday.

The GST Council did not discuss the draft laws for State GST (GST) and Union Territory GST (UTGST) bills, and those will be taken up at the next meeting on March 16, the finance minister said. A copy of the SGST law will be circulated among the states in three days, he added.

Jaitley reiterated that the July 1 2017 deadline for rolling out the new indirect tax regime now looks like an optimistic target.

Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister Hopefully, the laws will be tabled before Parliament in this session and subject to Parliament approving them, July 1 this year now optimistically looks like a possible date for implementation.

The Centre will place these legislations collectively before the Cabinet and and the Parliament since “there are cross-references between these laws and hence they have to be considered as a package”, Jaitley said at the media briefing.

Earlier in the day, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra had said while the IGST and CGST laws had broadly been cleared, the states had wanted 26 minor changes. He further said that IGST, which relates to taxation of inter-state transfer of goods, will provide for cross-empowerment of state and central officers.

Jammu & Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said the Centre had accepted the proposals and the Council would take a final view on the two laws in its next meeting.

Once the decks are cleared, the government will introduce the Model GST Law, which provides a common draft of CGST Law, SGST Law, IGST Law, UTGST Law and Compensation Law, in Parliament in the second half of the Budget Session which starts next week.

Last month, the GST Council cleared the draft compensation law, according to which the Centre will have to fully compensate states for any revenue loss for the first five years after migrating to the new tax system.

(This article was first published on BloombergQuint)