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May, 23rd 2012
                       PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU
                         GOVERNMENT OF INDIA


                                                New Delhi: Jyaistha 01, 1934
                                                               May 22, 2012

       The Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that the
primary benefit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), when introduced, would
be the removal of cascading effect of taxes which acts like a hidden cost and
makes goods and services uncompetitive both in domestic and international
markets. The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said that GST would check
leakage of revenue and the States should be able to realize tax revenues
commensurate to consumption of goods and services within their territory. He
said that it would provide a stable source of tax revenue and would play a very
vital role in sewing India together into one common market. The Finance
Minister said that for the consumer, the biggest advantage of the GST would be
its transparent character as well as the reduction in the overall tax burden on
goods which is currently in the range of about 25-30%.

                        The Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee was
addressing the Second Meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to the
Ministry of Finance during the current year here yesterday. The subject of the
meeting was "GST--The Way Forward". The meeting was also attended by the
Ministers of State for Finance Shri S.S. Palanimanickam, Minister of State for
Finance Shri Namo Narain Meena. The meeting was also attended among
others by the Members of Parliament Shri Anto P. Antony, Shri Mukesh V.
Gadhvi, Shri Narahari Mahto, Shri Natubhai Gomanbhai Patel, Shri Prabhat
Sinh Chauhan, Smt. Rajkumari Ratna Singh, Shri S.P.Y. Reddy, Shri Suresh
C. Angadi, Shri Vijay Inder Singla, Shri W. Bhausaheb Rajaram and Shri M.S.
Reddy all from Lok Sabha and Shri Amar Singh, Shri Mukut Mithi, Shri N.K.
Singh, Shri Rajkumar Dhoot, Shri Sabir Ali and Dr. Ashok Sekhar Ganguly
from Rajya Sabha. Among thje officials, Finance Secretary, Shri R.S. Gujral,
Secretary, Financial Services, Shri D.K. Mittal, Secretary Disinvestment, Shri
Haleem Mohammed Khan, Chief Economic Advisor, Dr. Kaushik Basu and
senior officials of the Ministry of Finance also attended the aforesaid meeting.

The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said that there are several factors
that make the current situation conducive to the introduction of GST in India.
He said that studies have shown that the introduction of GST would act like a
stimulus and instantly spur the rate of growth of the economy. Shri Mukherjee
said that all the States have successfully switched over from the erstwhile
Sales Tax system to the State Value Added Tax (VAT). He said that with the
implementation of the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission, the
two items in respect of which the States were prevented from levying VAT viz.,
textiles and sugar have also been omitted from the AED schedule. The Finance
Minister said that ever since the introduction of VAT, almost all the States have
witnessed a spur in the rate of growth of their tax revenues. The Finance
Minister Shri Mukherjee said as far as central taxes are concerned, the
integration of central excise duty and service tax i.e., the taxation of goods and
services is almost complete. Besides, the movement to a negative list of
services would bring us to a near GST situation in the taxation of services, the
Minister added. Shri Mukherjee said that soil has been prepared and the leap
to GST is only logical step from here. The Finance Minister further said that
the substantial and commendable efforts have been already put in by the
Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers in providing flesh and blood
to the blueprint of GST suited to the Indian context. The first discussion paper
on the subject was released by the Committee in November 2009, he said. The
Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said based on this conception,
the Centre has already introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok
Sabha in February 2011--the first step in the legal process that would
culminate into the GST. The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said that he is
hopeful that the Standing Committee on Finance would soon give its report on
the Bill so that the process of legislation in this direction can move forward.

      The Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that the
Empowered Group on IT Infrastructure for GST (EG) headed by Shri Nandan
Nilekani had recommended creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which
was further endorsed by the Empowered Committee of State Finance
Ministers(EC). He said that the SPV would be a non-government, not for profit
company with a self sustaining revenue model. He added that it would be
governed by the representatives from the Centre, State and other private
stakeholders. The government would however retain the strategic control over
the GSTN, the Minister added. The Finance ,Minister Shri Mukherjee said that
EG also recommended that creation of SPV would help in integrating Central
and State system of taxation and leveraging the IT infrastructure for the benefit
of the tax authorities and the taxpayers even before the GST roll-out. He said
that the SPV for GSTN has been approved by the Union Cabinet and the
Department of Revenue is taking necessary steps to make it functional. The
Finance Minister said that keeping in view the importance of the GST, another
Meeting of the Consultative Committee would also be held on the subject.
       Thereafter, a power point presentation on GST was made by a senior
official of the Department of Revenue for the benefit of the participating
Members of Parliament.

       Participating in the discussion, most of the Members of Parliament
present in the meeting supported the proposal for introduction of GST and
hoped that this would lead to 1% to 1.5% increase in GDP growth of the
country. They said that GST is a key reform and be introduced at the earliest.
They said that GST will result in higher tax collections both by the States and
the Centre. This will also lead to increase in the Tax GDP ratio. They however
cautioned that it must be ensured that introduction of GST does not lead to
any hike in prices of commodities as inflation is still above comfort level. Some
members suggested that there should be single point of taxation as multi point
taxation leads to harassment of businessmen and traders. It was also
suggested that the threshold limit should be kept little higher so that small
traders are outside the purview of GST as it is very difficult for them to
maintain books of accounts etc. Many members suggested for the same rate of
taxes in all the States so that businessmen and traders donot indulge in any
tax evasion activities. Some members suggested that the Constitution
Amendment Bill on the subject recently introduced in the Parliament needs
some corrections. In this regard, it was suggested that the provision of taking
decision by consensus by GST Council is not practicable as it can lead to
stalling of its smooth functioning. It was suggested that process to take
decisions either by simple or 2/3rd majority or any other mechanism be
considered. Some members said that there is no clarity regarding taxation of
services by the different States. They said that different States are treating
service tax differently. They suggested that there should be standard rates for
goods and services. There should be more participation of industry in policy
making in this area.      The new industrial units may also be considered for
inclusion within the ambit of the GST. There may also be a time frame for all
the services provided by GST. Subsidy provided for various goods and services
can be linked with GST network. The present provision for settlement of
disputes between the States as well as between the Centre and State(s) needs
to be reconsidered and simplified.

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