After two days of heated protests and fiery debates between members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition benches, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly today passed a resolution for implementing the Goods and Service Tax (GST) in a special session. J&K finance minister Haseeb Drabu had on Saturday stated in New Delhi that the state is likely to clear the legislation on the indirect tax regime by July 6.
Meanwhile, the Traders and Manufacturers (KTMF) association have called for a Valley-wide shutdown to protest against GST. Traders in Srinagar also staged a march against the proposed implementation of GST, which they claimed would lead to erosion of the special status and the fiscal autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.
People have already started stocking up on essential commodities in view of the crises caused by non-implementation of GST, which is being discussed in the state assembly for implementation. “We are suffering huge losses everyday. Government has to implement GST soon to avoid crises and hue and cry,” he said.
As per some officials of Lakanpur Inter-state Toll Plaza in Kathua district, there has been a great fall in trucks carrying supplies and goods to Jammu and Kashmir. The number of trucks crossing the toll plaza has come down to 200-300 from 2000 before 1 July, they said.
In industrial areas like Jammu, Gangyal, Bari Brahama, Samba and Kathua, hundreds of industrial units have stopped production in view of bills and supply problems caused by non-implementation of GST in the state.
While state BJP chief Sat Sharma claimed that the implementation of the GST would lead to an increase of Rs 10,000 crore in the annual revenues of the state, opposition NC and Congress members had opposed the new tax regime in its current form and demanded a separate bill in the Assembly, which would safeguard the special taxation powers enjoyed by the state under Article 370 of the Constitution.
On Tuesday, the assembly witnessed an ugly exchange of words between PDP minister Imran Ansari and National Conference leader Devendra Singh Rana – during which the former threatened to "lynch" the latter in the Legislative Assembly. Ansari had said that Rana, who is also a businessman, has already obtained GST clearance for the businesses he owns. As the debate started heating up, Rana, while referring to Ansari said, "Hum tax chor nahi hain (We are not tax evaders)."
This enraged Ansari and ultimately led to an uproar in the House. Ansari replied by saying, "I can lynch you here, I know you and your shady business."
The special session of the Assembly was called by the Opposition, as it believed that GST would erode the financial autonomy of the state. All states and Union Territories, barring Jammu and Kashmir, passed their State GST Act, paving the way for rollout of the Goods and Services Tax from the mid-night of 30 June-1 July.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said it will benefit the consumers by making goods cheaper and increase revenue for the state.
In a series of tweets, the minister congratulated the people of Jammu and Kashmir for passage of the bill by the state assembly.
Jammu and Kashmir is the last state to pass the SGST bill. The Goods and Services Tax has already came into effect from July 1.
"Congratulations to the people of J-K for integration of the state with the GST. J-K is a consuming state and GST will help it to increase revenue for the state," Jaitley said.
The consumers in Jammu and Kashmir will benefit from GST. "No tax payment twice over," he said.
Last month, Jaitley had written to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to implement GST as failing to do so would lead to "adverse impact" of price rise and put local industry at a disadvantage.