Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers Chairman Asim Dasgupta today said the panel expected the constitutional amendment Bill to facilitate roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to be tabled in the coming monsoon session of Parliament.

Dasgupta, who is the Finance Minister of West Bengal, said the committee was “really hopeful” of implementing GST from April next year.

“The monsoon session is targeted for bringing the constitutional amendment bill (for introducing GST) in the Parliament,” Dasgupta told reporters on the sidelines of the first meeting of the Working Group on Agriculture Production here today.

He said the constitutional amendment would also allow states to levy tax on services for the first time.

Stating that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was a great help in bringing about the proposed constitutional amendment, Dasgupta said the draft on which the law ministry was working would soon be circulated among state finance ministers for their views.

Asked about the Rs 50,000 crore compensation package announced by the 13th Finance Commission for states after implementation of the GST regime, Dasgupta said it was inadequate and he would soon meet Mukherjee in this regard.

On being asked whether the empowered committee had made any projection regarding the compensation required by the states after implementation of GST, he said that no estimate had so far been worked out.

However, he said that a meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers would be held in the third week of June this year to deliberate on the issue.

Asked about the implementation of GST from the next fiscal, he said the committee was really hopeful in this regard. “West Bengal government was fully prepared to implement the GST,” he asserted.

Asked about the suggestions given by West Bengal at the first meeting of the Working Group on Agriculture Production, Dasgupta said the state had stressed upon containing the rising prices of food articles and reducing the gap between demand and supply of important food items. He also spoke about maintaining self sufficiency in food grain.

He said the West Bengal government was purchasing land from willing farmers by paying 25 per cent more than the market price and then giving the land to landless farmers free of cost. The state government would also provide inputs like irrigation, seeds and fertilizers to farmers as part of its efforts to raise food grain production.

He rued the fact that land reforms had not been carried out in the country.

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