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India finalises bills to launch new sales tax in July
March, 08th 2017

India moved a step closer on Saturday towards launching a new national sales tax from July after a panel of federal and state finance officials finalised two key bills to be put before parliament.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has missed several launch dates. On Saturday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the measure is on track for a rollout from July 1 with the bills set to be discussed in parliament after it reconvenes next week.

To meet the deadline, parliament must pass the bills, which spell out the operational details of the new tax, before its current session concludes in mid-April.

After a meeting with state officials in New Delhi, Jaitley told media that the panel would meet again on March 16 to complete two more bills on the GST that require approval from state legislatures.

"This is a very welcome development and signifies that we are on track for (the) GST on July 1," said M.S. Mani, a senior director at tax consultancy Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP. "It is now essential that all businesses are adequately prepared to face the new era of (the) GST."

The long-awaited GST is hailed as India's biggest tax overhaul since independence in 1947, which would replace a slew of federal and state levies, transforming Asia's third largest economy into a single market for the first time.

Proposed tax rates range from 5 to 28 percent, with 12 percent and 18 percent being the standard rates. It has not been decided yet which tax rates will apply to which categories of goods. (Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

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