June 2017 News

J&K Revives Legislature Session From July 4-8 To Adopt GST

30 June 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Acting on expected lines, the State Government today re-convened the Special Legislature Session, which was adjourned sine die on June 17, from July 4-8 to discuss and, most likely, adopt the legislation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to implement it in the State with certain modifications to keep Special Constitutional Position of the State intact. Jammu and Kashmir, meanwhile, today became lone State in the country to miss the GST, which was rolled out countrywide at midnight tonight by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others. There will be no GST in the State from July 1 like all other States of the country and trade here could virtually come to a standstill for about 10 days till the GST is implemented after the Legislature nod. Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta told the Excelsior that on recommendations of the State Government, the Assembly session, which was adjourned sine die on June 17 minutes after Obituary Reference, has been reconvened from July 4 and will last till July 8. Gupta said since the House had been adjourned sine die only and not prorogued, it can be reconvened by him on recommendations of the Government under 3rd proviso to Rule 16 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Assembly. 'It will again be a Special Session of the Legislature exclusively meant for discussion and debate on the GST and there would be no other private or Government business,' he said, adding the session would have four sittings, beginning July 4. It would have double sittings on July 4, 5 and 7 while July 6 has been kept as off-day. July 8 has been reserved for the business, if any. Sources said the Government wants GST to be debated by all the members of the two Houses before approval. It would also list the steps taken by it to protect Special Constitutional Position and Fiscal Autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir in the draft legislation for GST. However, a similar attempt made by the State Government on June 17 for debate and passing of the GST in Special Session, had turned out to be a non-event after Government itself backed out from tabling the draft GST legislation in the Assembly following protests from the Opposition and got the House adjourned sine die. Later, the Government convened two meetings of Consultative Groups of all political parties on June 24 and 29 but consensus eluded on the GST. The Government had called All Party Meeting on June 13 prior to Special Session of the Legislature but there too was no consensus with Opposition insisting that the Government brief them on safeguards taken to protect Special Constitutional Position of the State in the GST. Sources said there were indications that since the Government now has been left with no option but adopt GST due to its implementation countrywide, it would adopt the GST in the Special Legislature Session with certain modifications to keep special powers of the State intact. 'Even if the Opposition tried to disrupt the session instead of debating the legislation, the Government could adopt the GST bill,' sources said and pointed out that only simple majority was required for approving the legislation in both Houses of the Legislature whereas the PDP-BJP coalition Government has nearly two-third majority in Legislative Assembly as well as Council. Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir, despite being governed by the BJP in coalition with PDP and People's Conference, failed to join the country in implementation of 'One Nation, One Tax' regime from midnight tonight. The new tax structure will be applicable throughout the country from tomorrow morning except Jammu and Kashmir. The Consultative Group meeting convened by the State Government yesterday, which was attended by representatives of all political parties, didn't arrive at any consensus, leading to stalemate. The Opposition parties said they were not opposed to implementation of GST but wants Government to reveal safeguards proposed to keep J&K's special status intact. Sources admitted that till GST is implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, which could take another 10 days if the GST bill was approved by the Legislature, the traders and consumers would suffer as neither the traders from outside the State would send their items to Jammu and Kashmir nor take the goods manufactured in the State in view of double taxation problems. Meanwhile, Chairman, Legislative Council, Anayat Ali has called the 116th Session of the Legislative Council at Srinagar on July 4. As per the provisional calendar issued by the Council Secretariat, there will be three sittings on 4th, 5th and 8th July while as 6th July and 7th July will be off days.