GST Bill: Opposition Wants Vetting By Parliamentary Panel

Two days ago, the finance ministry Arun Jaitley said he was confident that the Constitution Amendment Bill on GST will pass through the Parliament within the current session. On Friday (24 April), when he wanted a debate on the same, the Congress-led opposition parties said they wanted the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, which seeks to amend the Constitution to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to be sent to a Parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny of the changes made in it before participating in any debates.
The Bill seeks to amend the Constitution to introduce GST.  Consequently, the GST subsumes various central indirect taxes including the Central Excise Duty, Countervailing Duty, Service Tax, etc.  It also subsumes state value added tax, octroi and entry tax, luxury tax, etc. The Bill also inserts a new Article in the Constitution to give the central and state governments the concurrent power to make laws on the taxation of goods and services.
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014 by the finance minister.
What Is In The GST Bill
Integrated GST (IGST): However, only the centre may levy and collect GST on supplies in the course of inter-state trade or commerce.  The tax collected would be divided between the centre and the states in a manner to be provided by Parliament, by law, on the recommendations of the GST Council.
GST Council: The President must constitute a Goods and Services Tax Council within sixty days of this Act coming into force.  The GST Council aim to develop a harmonized national market of goods and services.
Composition of the GST Council: The GST Council is to consist of the following three members: (i) the Union Finance Minister (as Chairman), (ii) the Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance, and (iii) the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other, nominated by each state government.
Functions of the GST Council: These include making recommendations on: (i) taxes, cesses, and surcharges levied by the centre, states and local bodies which may be subsumed in the GST; (ii) goods and services which may be subjected to or exempted from GST; (iii) model GST laws, principles of levy, apportionment of IGST and principles that govern the place of supply; (iv) the threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from GST; (v) rates including floor rates with bands of GST; (vi) special rates to raise additional resources during any natural calamity; (vii) special provision with respect to Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; and (viii) any other matters.
Resolution of disputes: The GST Council may decide upon the modalities for the resolution of disputes arising out of its recommendations.
Restrictions on imposition of tax: The Constitution imposes certain restrictions on states on the imposition of tax on the sale or purchase of goods.  The Bill amends this provision to restrict the imposition of tax on the supply of goods and services and not on its sale.
Additional Tax on supply of goods: An additional tax (not to exceed 1%) on the supply of goods in the course of inter-state trade or commerce would be levied and collected by the centre.  Such additional tax shall be assigned to the states for two years, or as recommended by the GST Council.
Compensation to states: Parliament may, by law, provide for compensation to states for revenue losses arising out of the implementation of the GST, on the GST Council’s recommendations.  This would be up to a five year period.
Goods exempt: Alcoholic liquor for human consumption is exempted from the purview of the GST.  Further, the GST Council is to decide when GST would be levied on: (i) petroleum crude, (ii) high speed diesel, (iii) motor spirit (petrol), (iv) natural gas, and (v) aviation turbine fuel.

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