The Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, on Friday hinted at some slippage to the scheduled Goods and Services Tax (GST) system rollout by April 1, 2010. Introduction of the GST, billed as a flagship tax reform measure of the UPA Government, is considered crucial for attracting increased doses of domestic and foreign investments.

“I am trying to stick to the time schedule, but I will not be surprised if there is a slippage of a few months,” Mr Mukherjee said at an event organised by a newspaper in the capital.He said that the Centre and the States had agreed on many issues relating to the new tax system, but noted that few differences remained.

Mr Mukherjee plans to meet the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on November 10 to discuss the preparedness for GST introduction.The Finance Minister highlighted the need for legislative measures, including constitutional amendment, for introducing the GST system.

India is looking to launch a dual GST— Central GST and a State GST.Meanwhile, the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on VAT met in the capital on Friday to discuss issues relating to GST rollout.On financial sector reforms, Mr Mukherjee said there were differences within the coalition and some sort of broad political consensus was needed on insurance and pension reforms. “We are working on it. We need to converge views within the coalition and outside the coalition, and we are trying for that,” he said.

The Government wants to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in insurance sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent. It is also looking at allowing private sector players manage pension money.The attempt by the previous UPA regime to increase the FDI limit in the insurance sector met stiff opposition from the Left parties.

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