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The tortuous road to GST
October, 09th 2012

finance minister P Chidambaram said he will meet Sushil Modi, Bihar deputy chief minister and chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers soon, to garner consensus on when the constitutional amendment bill as a run up to the Goods and Services Tax can be passed by Parliament.

This is as far as we have got since 2006-07 when the idea of a national-level indirect tax regime GST was mooted by the Chidambaram himself. He aimed to introduce it by April 1, 2010. Two missed deadlines later, it still looks a distant dream even as he exuded confidence on the third attempt. Both the 13th Finance Commission and the recent Kelkar committee on fiscal consolidation has made this one of their key recommendations.

A well-designed GST, can lead to a 2 per cent increase in the GDP of the country, according to the 13th finance commission. However, the current political scenario coalesced with the unresolved contentions in the bill make it unlikely that the bill would pass muster in Parliament.

The finance minister told the economic editors he will meet the state finance ministers later this month to canvass support for getting a two-third majority in Parliament and a ratification by 50 per cent states.

But states are uncomfortable with the proposed GST council planned in the bill. In fact, the parliamentary standing panel, currently vetting the bill has also sought clarification from the finance ministry on the same.

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