J&K Finally Joins GST From Tonight, Assembly Passes Bill

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Srinagar(PTI): Jammu and Kashmir, the only state to miss the GST rollout bus on July 1, will join the new tax regime from tonight as the state Assembly passed a bill in this regard today amid opposition boycott.

The Jammu and Kashmir Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017, moved by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, was adopted by a voice vote in the absence of opposition parties which accused the PDP-BJP government of undermining the special status of the state.

The bill was moved in the Assembly after a Presidential Order which gave an assurance on preservation of the special status of the state guaranteed by Article 370 of the Constitution.

Drabu said the GST regime will roll out in the state at midnight tonight, making Jammu and Kashmir the last state to join the new tax regime.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sought to allay apprehensions over the GST law, saying anything that is good for the country cannot be bad for Jammu and Kashmir.

Before moving the bill for consideration and passing by the state assembly, the finance minister read out the contents of the Presidential Order pertaining to the special status of the state and its exclusive taxation powers.

He said there was no tradition of tabling a Presidential Order in the Assembly but the PDP-BJP government was starting a new one by tabling this order.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Order, the powers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, shall remain intact,” said the Order which was read out by Drabu.

“The legislature of the state of Jammu and Kashmir shall have the powers to make laws with respect to goods and services tax levied by the state,” the document said.

The entire opposition benches became empty when independent lawmaker from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid also walked out of the House just before the GST bill was moved for consideration and passing.

Members from principal opposition party, National Conference, did not attend the House today as they had yesterday announced their decision to boycott the proceedings for the rest of the session.

After completing the other legislative business listed for the day, Speaker Kavinder Gupta adjourned the Assembly sine die.