Asim Dasgupta, the chairman of the empowered group of state finance ministers, today met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and other officials to discuss the preparations on the implementations of the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 1 next year. Dasgupta, the finance minister of West Bengal, expressed his confidence and said we will not miss the target of implementing the GST. All efforts are on to hammer out the differences with some of the states.
Dasgupta also claimed that the problem with Tamil Nadu has been sorted out and some of the BJP-ruled states will soon fall in line.
According to top sources in the finance ministry, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is a divided house over its opposition to the GST. The main voice of dissent is the finance minister of Madhya Pradesh Raghav Ji.
But Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and even Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi has told the Centre that they want the GST to come in place from the next financial year.
The GST is expected to replace most of the taxes levied by the Centre like service tax and central excise. It will also offset taxes charged by states like the VAT, purchase tax and octroi.
While NDA-ruled states like Punjab has raised objections, those ruled by the Congress party like Haryana have also expressed apprehensions about the proposed tax.
These two states have informed the Centre that they do not want to do away with the purchase tax on agricultural products as it is a major source of their revenues. Maharashtra, another Congress-ruled state, wants to retain the octroi.
Dasgupta held a two-and-a-half-hour-long discussion with finance ministry officials today before meeting Mukherjee separately for 45 minutes.
We held a detailed discussion today with the central government officials as the GST is a dual model involving both the state as well as the Centre. But we are quickly reaching convergence, Dasgupta told Business Standard.
The empowered group of state FMs will hold another meeting with Mukherjee on October 8. This meeting, however, will not be attended by any minister from Maharashtra and Haryana as both the states are going to polls on October 13.
A section of the Congress is keen to incorporate the GST debate as one of the election issues in poll-bound Maharashtra.