Traders reiterate demand for GST rollback

The Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC), an amalgam of all Valley-based traders and hoteliers bodies and civil society, on Wednesday reiterated its demand of revoking the Presidential Order on the imposition of the goods and service tax (GST) in the state.

“We wish to put on record that we are not going to rest until the Presidential Order is withdrawn, GST in the present formis rolled back and J&K is declared a free economic zone,” JKCC member Mubeen Shah said while addressing a press conference in a local hotwl in Srinagar.

Accusing the government of misleading the traders and general public, he said by implementing the GST, the state had ‘compromised’ on its fiscal autonomy. He said the JKCC had tried hard to make the state government ‘see the reason but they were in such extreme hurry that they went for it without listening to anyone or seeing the reason’.

“It has further eroded our autonomy and the government has taken and is taking pride in it. It reduces the power and the flexibility of the state government to pursue its own fiscal policy as well as public expenditure policy which is aligned to its own requirements. GST, as a system, goes against the letter and spirit of the autonomy of the state,” Shah said.

“Even though it will have a dual structure –Central GST and state GST – still it completely erodes the financial power of J&K. In its present form and shape, if implemented in J&K, neither the state legislature nor the Cabinet will have any say on taxation matters. Under the GST regime, J&K will be surrendering this exclusive authority to tax goods and services,” he added.

Alleging that Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beigh had taken the traders for ‘a ride and surrendered everything on the fiscal autonomy front and sovereignty’, Shah said: “We understand that both of them need to be accountable and therefore, they have no right to stay at their respective positions.”

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