No GST without safeguards, NC reiterates

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SRINAGAR: Opposition National Conference (NC) on Sunday reiterated that it will not be supporting the new tax regime unless it has adequate safeguards. Former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said his party is not against the GST but is unwilling to support it in the existing form.

J&K’s six times Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather addressing a presser on GST on July 2, 2017 in Srinagar. KL Image: Mehraj Bhat

“We will not allow it to happen unless constitutional, administrative and economic safeguards are placing into it,” Rather told a news conference. There are options available but the government is not ready to discuss.”

In the Empowered Committee of the Finance Ministers’, Rather said he maintained a consistent stand that GST is a very good tax but J&K would require safeguards. “I said it in the first meeting as a minister and I maintained it through even when I was the president of the Empowered Committee,” Rather said. “In fact when my successor Dr Haseeb Drabu replaced me in the Empowered Committee on June 4, 2015, he asserted that he will maintain the stand that of his predecessor.”

Rather said J&K cannot afford any dilution of the autonomy it enjoys and NC will not support any move that will impact Article 370.

Asked if there are options and way-outs, Rather was affirmative. “We told the government to discuss it in detail so that something positive will come out but they are not ready,” Rather insisted.

Rather’s presser came a day ahead of the rescheduled assembly session on July 4, Tuesday. The government had earlier planned a daylong session but in absence of a consensus between the two principal parties, the sitting was dedicated to the obituary reference and closed. Now the government will have to summon the session again. Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu had earlier told reports in Delhi that the state government will be a special GST system in place by July 6. This has led to the criticism that if the government has already decided to have the GST system, why the assembly session should be summoned.

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