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GST Council to take up State and UT Bills today

With the expected July 1 rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime drawing closer, the GST Council, led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will meet on Thursday to finalise two Bills — the State and the Union Territory GST Bills.

If these are firmed up, Jaitley will be able to table all four enabling legislations for the tax in Parliament in the ongoing Session. These comprise of the Central, Integrated and UT GST Bills as well as the proposed legislation for compensation to States for any revenue losses.

Sources said that once cleared by the GST Council, the Centre is keen to take it to the Cabinet latest by next week and then table it in Parliament. The Session adjourns on April 12 and passage of the Bills in the current Session is essential for implementation of GST from July 1.

States may want changes

But, with Assembly elections in key States completed and the process of government formation going on, it is unclear how far the discussions will proceed.

“Ideally, there should be Ministers from all States present at the meeting, as it will take up the crucial draft SGST Bill,” noted a State Finance Minister.

Some States seem keen to reopen discussions on at least some provisions of the Centre and Integrated GST Bills, which were approved by the Council at its last meeting on March 4.

The Council is also likely to review the process of migration of existing businesses and assessees to the GST Network (GSTN). Officials from the GSTN and the Finance Ministry are likely to make a presentation on the state of preparedness. The draft laws have called for a transitional period of about six months to carry forward tax credit.

According to official data, enrolment of existing taxpayers under GST is still going on with different States at varying stages in the registration process. Training of officials for the new tax regime is also almost complete.

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