The State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) bill was passed unanimously on the last day of the two-day special session of the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday with both the ruling party and the Opposition MLAs urging the state government to see to it that the common people are not inconvenienced in any way. With the passage of the bill in the state Assembly, Uttarakhand has become the fifth state to enforce SGST following the passage of the central bill in the Parliament.
While introducing the bill in the House on the first day of the session on Monday, the state finance minister Prakash Pant had dwelt on the details of the bill. The crux of his speech was that Uttarakhand being a consumer state, it would reap huge benefit with the execution of the bill. He had said that with 17 types of tax being collected under VAT, only one tax would be applicable under GST regime with four kind of tax slabs to be fixed by the Goods and service Tax (GST) council, constituted to address the grievances of the states. He had also said that the businessmen are entitled to get their refund after they are duly registered under GST regime. Once the registration is done they would start filing their returns on monthly basis, Pant had said.
Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh reminded the House that as the finance minister of the state, she had attended 11th meeting of GST council . “We are ready to ensure the bill’s passage. However, it is the duty of the state government to address the apprehensions being voiced by the people, particularly, the traders. The enforcement agencies must be sufficiently flexible while executing the regime. In case the people suffer the state would finally suffer,” she said, in a note of caution to the state government.
She further raised the concern being nurtured by some industrialists who set up units by March 2010 and were awarded 10 years’ tax holiday, regarding the continuity of the tax holiday privilege, post the GST regime. “However, the reassuring feature of the bill is that the Centre will reimburse 58 percent and the state will pay 42 percent of the sum that would be refunded to the industrialists under GST regime after the industrialists enjoying the tax incentives for ten years file their IT returns,” she said.
Congress MLA Qazi Nizamuddin said that with the business class remaining under stress, the state government should address the teething troubles properly before going all-out to execute the act. “Time must be given to the industrialists and the traders to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the act. The state government must see to it that the industrialists are not left vulnerable to the arm-twisting government officials regarding their reimbursement,” he said.
While stressing on the positive sides of the act, BJP MLA Munna Singh Chouhan said that transportation of goods would be made easier under the new regime and subsequently, the projects would be completed in time. “After the bill was passed by the Parliament the international rating agency applauded it, saying that it would rid the Indians of what is known as tax terrorism, bringing more pace in the growth of the Indian economy. As far as reimbursement is concerned the state government should ensure that it is done digitally. This would help the people understand the new tax regime in all its aspects,” he said. He also stressed on the state government making proper marketing arrangements for the organic items being produced in the hills of the state. “With no tax hassle troubling them now, the produces should have no problem in being transported from place to place,” he said.