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GST Implementation: As Centre Rehearses Rollout, Jammu and Kashmir to Take Final Call Today

A mega rehearsal was conducted on Wednesday night in the Central Hall of Parliament ahead of the historic launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at midnight on June 30.

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Updated:June 29, 2017, 8:24 AM IST
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GST Implementation: As Centre Rehearses Rollout, Jammu and Kashmir to Take Final Call Today
In this June 20 photo, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar arrive to address a press conference on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout. A mega rehearsal was conducted on Wednesday night in Parliament ahead of the historic launch at midnight on June 30. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi/Srinagar: A mega rehearsal was conducted on Wednesday night in the Central Hall of Parliament ahead of the historic launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at midnight on June 30. The new tax regime will come into effect from July 1, but Jammu and Kashmir has not yet taken a call on its implementation. The state government will take a final call on Thursday after a meeting of the all-party consultative group, the state's Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu has said.

Drabu said the Mehbooba Mufti government is "genuinely interested" in building a consensus because the GST is a regime that would last for the next 30-40 years. The all-party consultative group, headed by PDP MP and former deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Beg, was constituted by the government after an all-party meet failed to evolve a consensus over the issue.

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"We will take a final call on the GST implementation tomorrow (Thursday) once we get the full sense of the all-party meeting. I do not want to preempt anybody. Let us understand what their views are," Drabu told reporters on Wednesday. The meeting is scheduled at 4 pm.

"May be there is something (which) I have not seen, may be they come up with a wonderful solution which meets all requirements and makes all of us happy," he added.

ALSO READ | To Attend or Not to Attend: Opposition in Dilemma Over Midnight GST Launch

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Monday written a letter to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, saying that failure of the state to implement the GST would lead to "adverse impact" of price rise and put the local industry at a disadvantage. Drabu said the state government has reached out to the opposition parties of the state and sent them all the relevant documents.

He said a perception has been created that the GST would impact the special status and the fiscal autonomy of the state, but there is no compromise on Article 370. "The government is trying to build a consensus. This is a very fragile society. We are going through difficult times. ... the way things are happening around us, the way things have been dehumanized, anything can spark off. You do not want to create social chaos. "So, it is in the interest of the society of J&K, not just the economy, to build a certain political as well as legislative consensus," he said.

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The last meeting of the consultative group was boycotted (by National Conference and Congress), Drabu said, adding "but we still tried." He said the chief minister had asked him to make another attempt and keep trying. Drabu said GST is the superior version of VAT and is beneficial for the consumers.

The Centre, meanwhile, geared up to usher in the tax regime with a special rehearsal in Parliament. Officers concerned from various departments, including those from the finance ministry attended the rehearsal event.

ALSO READ | How GST Will Curb Tax Evasion

The event to launch the GST will be held in the circular-shaped Central Hall, which witnessed a function to mark 50 years of Independence, and will be attended by President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and a host of senior ministers and bureaucrats, among others.

Mukherjee had piloted the first Constitutional Amendment Bill to bring in GST in 2011 when he was finance minister with the previous UPA government. The final event is likely to start at 11 pm on June 30 and will be on till half past midnight.

(With PTI inputs)
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