The fifth session of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, on Saturday, made some progress in fine-tuning the draft model law, based on which the Central GST (CGST) and state GST Bills will have to be approved by Parliament and state assemblies, respectively. However, no resolution was in sight on the issue of how the Centre and states will share their administrative powers on the 10-million indirect tax assessee base.
With the Council’s next meeting slated for December 11-12, the Centre will require to race against time to ensure passage of the three bills for CGST, integrated GST and states’ compensation bills in the current Parliament session, and roll out the new tax from April 1, 2017. The GST’s launch can’t anyway be delayed beyond September 16 next year, as the recent Constitutional amendment renders the extant taxes — which are to be subsumed in GST — non-enforceable from that date. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said discussion on the “cross-empowerment” issue — the IGST daft is also integrally linked to this — was “continuing”. “Logjams are meant to be broken,” he said. Stating that the Council had a “long and good” discussion on the division of administrative powers, he added: “If you ask me if we are close to a resolution, well, I can’t answer that… I’m keeping my fingers crossed.” Asked whether the GST Council would put the issue to vote, Jaitley said his approach as chairman of the Council has been to arrive at a consensus through deliberative democracy and “avoid division to the extent possible”.