GST Council clears draft laws

In a significant step towards meeting the July 1 deadline for the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the GST Council on Saturday gave its formal approval to the Central GST (CGST) and Inter-State GST (IGST) laws, with the Compensation Law already having been approved during the previous meeting on February 18.

The Council will meet again on March 16 to deliberate on the final versions of the remaining two laws — the State GST law and the Union Territories GST Law.

“The final drafts of the CGST and IGST laws were circulated to the GST Council and there was a long discussion on them,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference after the 11 GST Council meeting.

The CGST and IGST laws still required some minor tweaks in the language, but they will be ready and placed in the public domain within three to four days, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said.

The remaining laws to be approved, the SGST and UTGST laws, are replicas of the CGST law, with only minor differences, Mr. Jaitley added.

“The SGST law will apply to all States and Union Territories with legislatures (Delhi and Puducherry), but will not apply to those Union Territories without a legislature,” the Union Finance Minister said. “Therefore, we will need to bring out a Union Territories GST law for those Union Territories.”

‘A welcome step’
“While the passage of the CGST and IGST Bills by the GST Council is a welcome step, it would be have been wonderful if the SGST and UTGST Bills had also been approved,” M.S. Mani, Senior Director – Indirect Tax at Deloitte Haskins & Sells said.

Mr. Jaitley said the two remaining Bills will be placed before the GST Council on March 16. “If they are approved then, and I have every confidence that they will be, then four out of the five laws will be ready to be placed before the Cabinet for approval and then tabled in Parliament during the second half of the Budget session,” he said.

The SGST law will have to be approved by the Assemblies.

At a press conference, Mr. Adhia clarified the government’s position regarding the anti-profiteering provisions of the GST laws, which has caused much consternation among the private sector.

“We want it to be that companies pass on any rate cuts to the consumer rather than taking advantage of those cuts without any benefit to the consumer,” Mr. Adhia said. “There is no plan to send inspectors to everybody’s place to check.”

The GST Council, Mr. Adhia said, would either create a new body to regulate this, or will give that authority to an existing body.

Source : The Hindu

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