GST Council moves a step closer to finalising draft laws
Updated: Saturday, December 24, 2016

The issue of dual control and the all important IGST legislation will be taken up at the next meeting on January 3-4.

The Goods and Services Council has moved a significant step closer to finalising the draft Central GST and State GST laws that must be passed in Parliament — along with two other laws — to bring GST into implementation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced on Friday.

The Council will meet again on January 3-4 and will discuss the contentious issue of cross-empowerment, the only main issue that is lacking consensus, Mr Jaitley added, saying that the next session will also see the CGST and SGST laws being framed in legal language and placed before the states.

“The CGST and SGST laws, a total of 197 provisions and five schedules, have been approved,” Mr Jaitley said during a press conference following the completion of the Seventh GST Council meeting on Friday. “The legally vetted copy of the drafts will be circulated to the states. Only issues of dual control and cross empowerment are left.”

Regarding the Compensation Law, the Finance Minister said that a few issues are left to be settled — such as the source of the compensation fund — but that the law will be placed for approval, along with the CGST and SGST laws, in legal language at the next meeting of the Council. He added that the compensation to the states for the loss of revenue, if any, from the rollout of GST, would be paid every two months.

“So, if I were to list the residual issues left for the next meeting, then they are the Interstate GST law, the issues of dual control and cross empowerment, and the approval of the legally vetted language,” Mr Jaitley said.

“The GST council seems to have made some good progress, in terms of approving the CGST and compensation laws,” Pratik Jain, Partner and Leader Indirect Tax, PwC India said. “The most contentious issue of 'dual control' or 'cross empowerment' is to be discussed at the next meeting in early January.  If there is an agreement on the issue, then GST laws can be passed in the budget session.  However, now April 1, 2017, as the date of GST implementation is virtually ruled out, which I think is good news for both industries as well as the Government.”

Mr Jaitley also said that the rates committee was working in parallel, and would make its recommendations to the GST Council soon. “After all these pending issues are cleared, then we can move on to rates,” Mr Jaitley said.

Despite the fact that the government failed to table and pass the draft GST laws in the Winter session of Parliament, Mr Jaitley said he was trying his best to meet the government’s deadline of April 1, 2017, for the rollout of GST.

“We don’t want to hasten the process of discussion,” he said. “But we don’t want to delay implementation either. The GST Council meetings are all-day and issues are often discussed for hours. No decision has so far been taken by vote, all are by consensus.”

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