Riyaz ul Khaliq
The J&K Finance Minister Thursday ‘clarified’ his government’s position on New Industrial Policy and General Sales Taxes (GST) regime.
The issue was raised by Independent lawmakers, Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen Shah, Er Sheikh Abdul Rasheed who stood from their seats and asked government “how was New Industrial Policy being implemented when SRO 105 has been put on hold”.
Notably, government spokesperson on May 12, 2016 in a presser had announced that the New Industrial Policy which was approved during Governor N N Vohra rule, will be “revisited and reviewed”.
However, on 19th day of current of J&K 2016-17 Budget session, the Industries Minister, Chandra Prakash Ganga revealed in the Lower House that there was “no change done” and the New Industrial Policy was already in force since March 15, 2016.
However, FinMin economist Dr Haseeb A Drabu, who attended meeting of all 28 FinMins across India in Kolkatta two days ago on GST, made a statement regarding both issues.
While detailing the “review” done to New Industrial Policy and the issue regarding GST, Dr Drabu told the Opposition that they should have listened and gone through the content of Governor’s speech delivered by N N Vohra on May 25, 2016 at SKICC- the first day of current 2016-17 budget session.
He quoted para 56 of the Governor’s speech regarding New Industrial Policy and said, “there is clearly mentioned as how the special status of J&K will not be harmed.”
Dr Drabu said, “the provision regarding Industrial Estates has been put on hold.” “The confusion was created on this and we have put it on hold.”
He maintained, “if there would be any change in the policy, we will bring in SRO at the end of the budget session.”
However, National Conference’s Khanyar Lawmaker, A M Sagar continuously interrupted Dr Drabu while he was making the statement which created noisy scenes. He was joined by Communist lawmaker M Y Tarigami and Congress’ G M Saroori and independent Lawmaker Er Rasheed.
“Your Industries minister yesterday said that the New Industrial Policy has not been put on hold,” Sagar told the treasury benches.
Demanding resignation of Chandra Prakash Ganga, Sagar said, “he has mislead the house and it should be condemned.”
On the issue of GST, Dr Drabu nullified the reports that J&K state didn’t object to the new taxes regime being implemented by Union Government.
Khan Sahib Lawmaker, Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen on Wednesday had told the house that only Tamil Nadu state objected to the GST regime in the meeting attended by J&K FinMin in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“My and my government’s position is clear on it (GST),” Dr Drabu told the lawmakers, “the current GST has not provided any safeguards to J&K.”
He clarified that Tamil Nadu objected to GST because being “a manufacturing state”. “The problem with application of this law to J&K is that we have a a special position,” Dr Drabu told the house.
“I told the meeting the current GST law cannot be allowed to overrule the J&K laws,” he added.
FinMin Drabu informed the house that he sought forming of a “special committee which will chalk out modalities as how J&K can recover taxes under GST”.
Responding to questions as how “J&K can levy taxes on helicopter services”, the economist FinMin informed the house that J&K is guided by its own 1962 J&K Sales Tax Act. “We have the powers to levy taxes on 29 services.”
Former MoS and Udhampur’s independent lawmaker, Pawan Gupta had been raising the issue as “taxes on Helipcopter services fall in the Union List and state had no power to do so”.
“We have been protecting the religious diversity of our state,” he told the house. “Don’t make it an issue of religion v/s taxes.”
“Under 1962 law, J&K can levy taxes on such services,” he said.
Dr Drabu clarified to lawmakers, “if you still have any issue, there is court of law.”