June 7, 2009

VAT panel to meet Pranab by mid-June on GST

New Delhi, June 3, 2009: Confident of meeting the schedule of introducing the Goods and Service Tax in the beginning of the next fiscal, state finance ministers will meet the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee around mid-June on various issues relating to the new tax system.

"I am very happy to know that the Union Finance Minister would be having interactions with state finance ministers on many matters, including GST, and so it will be in the middle of this month we will have the meeting on the GST," VAT panel Chairman Asim Dasgupta said here. He exuded confidence that GST would be introduced in the beginning of the next fiscal, as scheduled.

"As you know, the scheduled target date for introduction of GST is April one 2010 and we want to stick to it," Dasgupta, who is West Bengal's Finance Minister, said. When asked whether he is hopeful of meeting the deadline of April one, 2010, he said,"of course."

Right now, only broad structure of GST, which would replace excise duty, service tax at the Central level and VAT at the state level has been agreed upon between the Union Government and states. It has been agreed that the new tax system would have two structures, one at the state level and another at the Centre. However, its exact rate and items to be brought under it still remain to be decided. Also, legislative action would have to be completed after an agreement is reached between the Centre and states on various aspects of GST.

"When I say it is the beginning of April one, 2010, that means before that there are certain legislative actions required and implementation starts from April one, 2010," Dasgupta said.

Before GST is introduced, its draft structure would be put on the website and interactions would be held with traders and industry to incorporate any changes in the final tax system.

"Before that (April one, 2010), we will put on the website what is the strucutre...We will have detailed interaction not only with the industry, but with the traders at the national level, at the state level also," he said.

By the time GST is introduced, Central Sales Tax (CST), which is a tax imposed on inter-state movement of goods, has to be brought to zero since it distorts the very purpose of GST of making India a common market. CST currently stands at two per cent.

When asked whether he saw any difficulty in reducing CST by the Centre to one per cent this fiscal and zero by next fiscal, Dasgupta said, "I can make any comment only after the meeting of the Empowered Committee (of state finance ministers on VAT)."

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