Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal

GST Council met for the tenth time at Udaipur on 18th February, 2017, its first meeting out of Delhi and at Udaipur (Rajasthan). This meeting being at Udaipur for only few hours, being of one day and then due to air connectivity, people were reaching till 12.00 p.m. of same day. While it could have been the last meeting before GST Bills were approved, this could not be done due to various other issues which had to be ironed out. Perhaps there will be few more meetings before GST see the light of the day.

10th GSTC meeting was crucial as it paved the way for many decisions before final approval of draft legislations take place. Though the draft Bills (CGST / SGST / IGST) could not be finalized, yet compensation Bill was finally cleared by GSTC. Major decisions which were taken at Udaipur meeting include –

  • Approval of State Compensation Bill
  • For Union Territories, there will be fourth piece of legislation, UTGST on the lines of SGST law which will be legislated by Parliament
  • GSTC considered several contentious issues to bring about harmonization between legal committee and GSTC giving its directions on the same. Some of these were in relation to agriculture and agriculturist, appellate tribunal, exemptions during transition phase, issue of services and value added in works contracts etc.
  • Legislative Bills to be approved in 11thmeeting at Delhi on 4-5 March, 2017.
  • Fitment of rates in commodities to taken up by GSTC after approval of bills i.e. which item in which slab rate. The group of officers are doing the ground work on the same. (It may be noted that businesses are eagerly waiting for fitment as their impact analysis is dependent on the same).

GST: What next

  • Drafting of a separate legislation for Union Territories (UTs) on lines with SGST, i.e, UTGST.
  • Approval of draft legislations by GSTC
  • Union Cabinet approval to the GSTC approved Bills (CGST, SGST, IGST and UTGST)
  • Presentation of the Bills in Parliament (CGST, IGST, UTGST)
  • Presentation of SGST Bill in respective State assemblies by each State and two Union Territories having assemblies
  • Drafting of Rules / Forms and their tabling in Parliament / State assemblies
  • Notification of appointed date.

It appear that once the legislative bills are cleared, hopefully in next GSTC meeting, the approved bills may not be placed in public domain for further comments but may finally go to the Parliament as Bills. It would however, be desirable for the sake of transparency to let the country know what all amendments have been made. After all, India needs a near perfect law (if not perfect)with least of aberrations and inconsistencies. This becomes more important as these Bills may not be referred to any Standing or Select Committee of Parliament since these have been vetted by an all powerful GSTC.

Udaipur, being a romantic city could not romance with GST and the final approval got delayed for a fortnight or so as GST Council is next meeting is now scheduled for 2 days on 4-5 March, 2017 Delhi. This will be the crucial meeting before Bills are tabled in Parliament in the second trench of ongoing Budget session beginning from 9th March, 2017.

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