Sunday November 18, 2018
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RS panel okays GST bill, suggests five-year central compensation

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New Delhi The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha on the Goods and Services Tax Bill has advised changes in provisions relating to compensation for states and on levy of one percent additional tax by states on the inter-state supply of goods.

The suggestions were made on Wednesday as the committee submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha, the upper parliamenthouse of parliament. The report, which by majority endorsed almost all the GST bill provisions is, however, marked by dissent notes from the Congress, AIADMK and Left parties.

According to the committee, the provision in the bill provides that the central government “may” compensate states for a period up to five years for any revenue loss. The report has suggested this be substituted with a commitment to compensate for five years.

In case of the provision for levying 1 percent additional tax by states to cover their losses due to abolition of local levies, owing to implementation of GST, the committee has suggested the levy should only apply to “all forms of supply made for a consideration”.

According to the bill, when goods move from one state to another, an additional one percent tax would be levied, but the opposition said it would lead to a cascading effect.

The committee, headed by BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav, however, retained the representation of the Centre and states in the GST Council at the proposed level at one-third and two-thirds, despite demands to reduce the centre’s representation to one-fourth.

“Administratively, we are taking all steps for both the Centre and states to meet the April 2016 deadline,” Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters here.

The union government has set the target to reform India’s indirect tax regime from April next year, and had earlier proposed 100 percent compensation to states for first three years.

The GST is seen as the key to facilitate industrial growth and improve the country’s business climate.

By subsuming most indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments, such as excise duty, service tax, VAT and sales tax, the new regime proposes to facilitate a common market across the country, leading to economies of scale and reducing inflation through an efficient supply chain.

The passage of the bill to become a law is a lengthy process.

Being a constitution amendment bill, passed by the Lok Sabha, it needs to be passed by the Rajya Sabha with a two-thirds majority and then be ratified by at least 15 state legislatures before being sent to the President for his assent.

IANS

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)