Virtually All States On Board: Jaitley On GST Meet

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Kolkata: The Goods and Services Tax or GST, which aims to bring the country under a unified tax regime and has been stalled by a stalemate for years, has finally earned the support of virtually all states except Tamil Nadu, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely said today.

The union minister met finance ministers of 22 states states and representatives from seven others in Kolkata in hopes of fostering a consensus on the contentious Bill.

“All states have virtually supported GST. Only Tamil Nadu has expressed some reservations,” Mr Jaitley said. The Finance Minister also shot down the Congress’ demand to write a cap for the GST into the constitution and said the states agreed to the move.

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who is chairing the two-day meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, said the the discussion today saw a “record attendance”.

“I am really touched by the professionalism of the honourable ministers. We will try to fix the next meeting in second week of July,” he said. The proposed tax reform, India’s biggest revenue shake-up since independence in 1947, seeks to replace a slew of federal and state levies, transforming the nation into a customs union.

The Congress party, the original author of the tax reform, has said it would back the GST bill if the government agreed to cap the tax rate at 18 percent and create an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states.

The government now hopes to have the Bill, which has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, cleared by the upper house or Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session of the Parliament.

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