GST Implementation: Beigh chairs APC Group meet, NC, Congress Stays Away

SRINAGAR: The All Party Consultative Group constituted by the state Government to evolve consensus over GST implementation in J&K met here this afternoon under the chairmanship of former Deputy Chief Minister and Member Parliament, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh.

Senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party Muzaffar Hussain Beigh Photo: Bilal Bahadur

The members of the All Party Consultative Group include Abdul Rahim Rather from National Conference; M Y Tarigami from CPI(M), Nizam-ud-Din Bhat from PDP, Advocate Sunil Sethi from BJP, Aijaz Ahmad Khan from Congress, Hakeem Muhammad Yasin (PDF), Ghulam Hassan Mir (DNP) and Independent MLAs Pawan Gupta and Sheikh Abdul Rashid.

The invitation for the meeting was extended to the members of the All Party Consultative Group by the Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu on Thursday.

Except the representatives from National Conference and Congress, all other members of the Consultative Group were present at the meeting which was also attended by Minister for Law & Justice, Abdul Haq, Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu, Chief Secretary, B B Vyas, Finance Secretary, Navin Kumar Choudhary, Commissioner Commercial Taxes, M I Khateeb and other senior officers of the Finance & Law Departments.

At the onset, on the request of the chair, the meeting observed two-minute silence as mark of respect for Dy SP Mohammad Ayub Pandit who was lynched to death near Central Jamia Masjid Srinagar during Shab-e-Qadr.

The meeting held threadbare discussions over the legal, legislative, financial and economic aspects of the GST regime with the Chairman explaining in detail the nuances of the new tax regime.

There was a general consensus in the meeting that non-implementation of GST regime would trigger economic and financial chaos in the State with the inter-state trade vis-a-vis J&K taking a big hit.

The meeting, at the same time, called for allaying the apprehensions and misconceptions that have been passed on to the people for political expediencies.

Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh said that there was unanimity in the forum on either of the three paths to be followed on GST which include taking further time to build wider political consensus, taking the matter to the legislature and allowing the state cabinet to take a call on the issue in light of JK’s special constitutional position.

This is the second attempt by the government to evolve consensus over GST implementation in the state. Earlier, an All Party Meeting chaired by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was convened on the issue on June 13.

Congress Stays Away

Congress delegation with Governor N N Vohra at Rajbhawan on Oct 24, 2016.

Congress in a statement said it skipped the meeting. Congress today refrained from the meeting convened on GST in Srinagar today citing the reason as non-serious attitude of the Government with regard to implementation of GST. The Party also blamed PDP BJP coalition for being in a State of confusion over GST, as a result, the trade bodies in the entire state were in dilemma, a spokesman of the party said.

The Party Spokesperson in  Statement issued  today said that Congress  Party  has decided to refrain from the meeting, saying that Government has failed to circulate draft proposal, as  it was agreed that the draft resolution of GST  would be circulated to Congress and other parties, enabling them (Opposition) to debate and discuss the GST  at length in order to evolve a consensus,  but this is unfortunate that no such proposal from the Government side has come out so far, which reflects that both PDP BJP are in a state of confusion and  has no roadmap on GST.

Expressing surprise over the non-serious attitude of the Government, the Party Spokesperson said that despite the pressing demand from opposition for draft proposal, nothing was done from the Government Side, which has sent confusing signals among the entire political   spectrum in the State.

The Spokesperson added that Chief Minister agreed in the all-Party meet that draft proposal as demanded by the opposition would be circulated to every political party, but despite that nothing was done on the part of Government.

The Spokesperson further said that one fails to understand that on the one hand PDP BJP is in hurry to implement GST and on the other hand Government is not even able to circulate draft proposal, which is indicative of double standards and ill intentions on the part of the PDP BJP Coalition, which remains the cause behind Congress Party’s refraining from today’s GST meet.

BJP Downplays Threats

Dr Nirmal Singh

Strongly refuting the news item published in a section of press where some fabricated quotes have been attributed to him regarding GST implementation in the State, the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh today clarified that he has been grossly misquoted and his remarks have been presented in a completely distorted manner.

In a statement, Dr Singh said  that the Government  has already  constituted  an All Party Committee to  explore  the ways and means for  implementing  the new tax regime in the state without  harming  the  interests of people and  the special  status  of Jammu and Kashmir. “Why only one newspaper has reported my remarks in such a distorted manner when several journalists were present at the said event,” he said and added that it would have been reported by the other sections of the media the same way if I had made any such remarks.

He said the Government would follow the proper process in implementation of GST regime so that the interests of the state, the consumers and the traders are protected appropriately. He said the coalition Government is functioning smoothly and implementing developmental initiatives and other issues as per the Agenda of Alliance. “There is no threat to the coalition government as such and it will complete its full term,” he said.

Elaborating further on the implementation of GST in the State, the Dy Chief Minister said that this Central law is quite beneficial for all stakeholders in the State and does not harm any section of the society or Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. In the absence of this new tax regime which will be rolled out in the entire country from Ist July, the State and people will suffer hugely on account of double taxation, he said.

He said those opposing implementation of GST in Jammu and Kashmir are misleading the common masses for their ulterior political interests. The GST will bring uniformity in the country with one tax and also benefit the common man in the State as many items of daily use will become cheaper, he added.

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