GST: Jaitley pushes for consensus


NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday said that it will wait for consensus to emerge on GST laws and will not push for a decision by vote despite the threat of a delay in rolling out the new tax regime from April.

 “I have consciously avoided voting and we have decided on issues based on consensus, often after a long discussion. The GST Council is a federal institution and a delicate one,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the body comprising states and the Centre failed to finalise the draft laws once again. Jaitley said that given that the precedent from earlier meetings would be cited in future decision-making, GST Council was trying to decide on all issues by consensus.
 Two major issues -the proposed levy of tax on sale in the high-seas and dual control over entities with annual turnover of less than Rs 1.5 crore -have held up the finalisation of the draft laws. The laws need to be cleared by the state legislatures and Parliament before GST can be rolled out and industry is demanding time to prepare itself for the new tax regime.
As a result, the possibility of rolling out GST from April seems remote and state FMs are talking about a delay with Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac suggesting that implementation may not take place before September, which is the Constitutional deadline. “I am not very optimistic about GST rolling out in June or July.It is better to move to GST after all the preparations are done. To my understanding, it will be implemented September on wards,” he told reporters.
 While West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra did not indicate a date, he said that a number of steps had to be taken, including software upgradation by companies. Jaitley too acknowledged that it was a race against time.”We know the difficulties, we are moving against time,” he said, adding that the GST Council would try to clinch a deal at its next meeting on January 16.


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