Integrated GST (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill passed in Lok Sabha

Amid reluctance from the opposition over the implementations of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Integrated GST (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Although leaders of the Opposition were in a state of denial regarding the introduction of the tax regime in Jammu and Kashmir, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley urged that it was necessary for the welfare of the state, since commodities would have gotten more expensive in the absence of the tax.

"If we would not have integrated Jammu and Kashmir in GST, they would have missed out on input credit, making everything much more expensive. The revenue of Jammu and Kashmir would also have been higher," he said.

"Those who are advocating for single tax slab have learnt it from some western nation where there is no population falling under the 'below poverty line' category. Single tax slab is an argument against the poor and only for the wealthy," added Jaitley.

The Congress Party vehemently refused to accept the methods deployed to implement the GST bill, while stating that it was not against the bill itself.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor alleged that the GST was created for the upper strata of society, and not common man. Citing the case of tourism in the Valley, he said that if the GST is not rolled back, tourism would suffer very badly in Kashmir.

Supporting this stance, BJP leader Thupstan Chhewang demanded the removal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and requested the government to exempt Ladakh from the GST for at least five years.

However, Jaitley clarified that the special status of the state was not created with the intention of its economic impediment.

BJP leader Anurag Thakur, while backing Jaitley said if the GST was not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, the concept of 'One Tax, One Market, One Nation' would be lost.

Although the introduction of the GST was met with challenges in terms of certain sectors like textile, entertainment, and so on, Jaitley stated that staging demonstrations does not pressurize the GST council or State finance ministers, adding that only national interest is considered before formulating any policy.

"We are looking at how to strengthen the Make in India initiative. Grievance cells are being set up at the local and national level. No member of the GST council or Ministry of finance is pressurized by demonstrations; what we look at is national interest," concluded Jaitley.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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