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Goods and Services Tax seminar inaugrated by Mukherjee
December, 14th 2010

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate a two-day seminar on proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) tomorrow, even as the Cenre and states have not made much headway on constitution amendments required for the new indirect taxation system.

The seminar, titled ?Goods and Services Tax : Transition Issues?, will be oganised by government auditor CAG.

It will discuss GAG''s findings on preparedness for transition from sales tax to value added tax, the rationale for the tax reforms and issues related to IT as well as legal and operational areas.

CAG has recently conducted a study on the findings of the implementation of value added tax in the states.

It highlighted the lessons and need for improving preparedness before introduction of these tax reforms both from legislative and administrative angles.

Besides Mukherjee, the seminar would have speakers from the Finance Ministry, financial institutions, states and industry.

The fate of GST, touted as major indirect tax reforms after state-level VAT, however, hangs in balance.

Last week, the Empowered Committee of state finance ministers convened a meeting on GST, but FMs of only eight states attended it.

In fact, the issue of constitution amendment bill, required for rolling out GST, was not on the agenda of the meeting. The issue of GST rates was there, but it was also put off for next meeting.

Constitution amendments are required to enable the Centre to impose tax beyond manufacturing and states to levy service tax, which cannot be done in the present scheme of things.

The Centre has proposed three rates for GST--the lower 6 per cent and higher 10 per cent for goods, and 8 per cent for services to be imposed by the Centre and states each.

Introduction of GST has already missed a deadline of April one, 2010. The Centre had said it will make efforts to roll it out from April 1, 2011, but that timeline is also likely to be missed now.

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