CA Pradeep Jain & Sukhvinder Kaur, LLB [FYIC]
The introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) at both Central as well as State level is the dream of the Government despite their being stiff opposition from various states who do not want to loose the sources which generate revenue for them.
The Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has announced in the Budget Speech given on 28th February 2011 that the Constitutional Amendment Bill will be introduced in the Parliament in this Session.
The other steps proposed to be taken for introduction of GST by the Finance Minister are establishment of a strong IT infrastructure. It was also announced that significant progress on the GST network (GSTN) has been made. The key business processes of registration, returns and payments, was told to be in advanced stages of finalization. The National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) has been selected a technology partner for incubating the National Information Utility that will establish and operate the IT backbone for GST.
It was also announced by the Finance Minister that by June 2011, NSDL will set up a Pilot portal in collaboration with eleven States prior to its roll out across the country.
The establishment of IT Infrastructure as well as the setting up of Pilot portal in collaboration with eleven States can only be said to be contingencies which cannot take place till the Act levying GST is in place. These steps are far fetched ideas which cannot materialize till the Amendment is carried out in the Constitution and the path for introducing GST is cleared of all anomalies.
The Finance Minister has also announced in its budget speech that to tax services based on a small negative list for tapping untapped sectors are brought under tax net, would be very conducive for a nationwide GST. It was proposed to initiate an informed public debate on the subject to help finalise the approach to GST. But the hurdle is still the same that when the proposed GST bill is not there, how the debate will go on and on what basis. Until and unless the first step of Centre having power to make the law and the said law is made, the other steps of starting debate on the same is still only wishful thinking.