Assam takes the lead in ratifying the GST bill

After the recent state elections in which BJP came into power in the state of Assam, the new Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonwal made sure that Assam becomes the first state in the country to pass the GST bill. As we are aware, the 122nd constitutional amendment bill was recently passed by both the houses of the Parliament.

GST at the Centre: The Rajya Sabha which took its time over multiple Parliament sessions finally approved the bill on 3rd of August, 2016. In the process that began in May 2015, a number of modifications were carried out in the bill to adjust to the demands of the political parties in the Rajya Sabha. Hence the bill had to be sent to the Lok Sabha once again for approval. On 8th of August, the Lok Sabha passed the bill with all the 443 members present, voting in favour of the bill. On the very next day, Mr Arun Jaitley the Union Finance Minister set the target date for the GST bill rollout as April 1, 2017, exactly a year after the originally declared date.

The state level journey: The new rollout date is an equally tough call for the government as it needs to get the 16 states to pass the bill. The Information and broadcasting Minister Mr M Venkaiah Naidu is already on the task and speaking to the Chief Ministers of the states. The government is quite hopeful to table the CGST and IGST bills in the winter session of the Parliament. The passage of these bills would be necessary in order to meet the rollout deadline.

Assam in action: While Assam has taken the lead, the Delhi assembly is gearing to table the bill in the monsoon session. In Assam, the Finance Minister Hemant Biswa Sarma had introduced the bill on behalf of the Chief Minister and termed it as a historic proposal. The Speaker Ranjeet Kumar Dass had allowed the introduction of the bill on the next day after a late night request by the ruling party. The All India UDF and opposition Congress had sought a discussion to evaluate the impact of GST on the people of Assam. However, the request was turned down by the Speaker.

Positive move: The state Finance Minister believes that this move on the part of the Assam government will send positive signals to the industry. In the past, Assam used to lag behind in the legislations and the mood change is evident as it becomes the first state in the country to pass the GST bill.

Flexibility: The Assam state FM indicated that out of the Central GST collected from the state forty-two per cent will be available back to the state. Also, a preferential treatment would be given to the North Eastern states if they appeal for a cut back in taxes due to specific reasons. They would also have the flexibility to collect special tax in case of a natural calamity like flood or earthquake strikes. However, the approval for the same would come from the GST Council.

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