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GST Council meeting inconclusive: Will keep fingers crossed for consensus on key issues, says Jaitle

The fifth Goods and Sales Tax+ (GST) Council meeting on Saturday turned out to be inconclusive, as the impasse over the issue of assessee jurisdiction continued. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the Council, today said it would meet again on December 11 and 12 to hammer out differences on which assessees will come under states' jurisdiction, and which ones will come under the Centre's. The Council is also yet to approve the drafts of supporting legislations such as the Central GST and State GST, Integrated GST, and a law detailing compensation to states for loss of revenue in the first five years of the roll-out. "Are we close to a resolution? I'll keep my fingers crossed," said Jaitley when asked whether the Council would be able to reach a consensus on key issues to enable the country to implement the new tax regime from April 1. "I hope during the next meeting on November 11-12, there is a positive movement as far as laws are concerned. But on the critical issue of cross-empowerment, two to three suggestions have come," he added. The Minister, however, added that the new regime will have to be put into place by September 16, 2017 at the latest, as it's a constitutional requirement.+ Giving further details, Jaitley said the Council discussed draft CGST and IGST laws. "We started approving the laws clause by clause and almost 9 chapters of each have been discussed. We are heading towards consensus on these laws. There are two other laws - Compensation and IGST - which will be discussed in the next meeting on December 11, 12. The issue of dual-control linked IGST remains unresolved we will discuss this as well in the next meeting," he said. Jaitley said that there cannot be implementation without resolving all issues. "My approach will be to resolve it by discussion or consensus. So far I have avoided division and I would like to avoid division to the extent it is possible," he explained. Jaitley also said States had wanted a discussion on demonetisation. But since the GST Council can't discuss the impact of the currency ban on states' revenue, it was discussed at an informal meet after the panel meeting, he explained. Today's meeting took place even as states such as West Bengal say they are wary of implementing the new tax regime in the aftermath of demonetisation - as this might destabilize the economy and may emerge as a "second blow" at this juncture.

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