Even as a fresh effort will be mounted at the October 30 meeting of the empowered committee of state finance ministers to evolve a consensus, the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), continues to face hurdles from a few states on two main issues, Chairman of the empowered committee Asim Dasgupta said. The empowered committee was set up to lay out a road map for introducing the landmark reform in the indirect tax system in India. The launch date was April 1, 2010.

Participating in an interactive session with the Merchants Chamber of Commerce (MCC) here on Friday, Dr. Dasgupta said, “While the extent of differences has narrowed down, we are trying to resolve them and we are hopeful of evolving a consensus on the basis of hard-realities.”

Dr. Dasgupta, who is West Bengal's Finance Minister, said, “As the chairman of the committee, I have to take everyone on board. We are hopeful of a consensus at our month-end meeting. It is not a state-specific problem but a structural problem.”

Indications were that about five states were opposing the imposition of GST. Dr. Dasgupta, however, evaded media suggestions that the opposition to GST was on political lines. He said that a discussion paper has been circulated by the committee.

He said that the two main areas of discord were the draft constitutional amendment bill and also on the issue of creating a mechanism for settling GST-related disputes. He was hopeful that by the winter session, it would be possible to bring in Parliament the GST Bill and also Constitution Amendment necessary to enable states to collect service tax. He also said that Nandan Nilekani was heading a committee for creating the IT infrastructure for GST. “From all flanks we are narrowing in on GST,” he said.

MCC President S. S. Beriwala said earlier that the chamber was hopeful that the apprehension of some states about loss of financial autonomy would be set at rest and it would be possible to introduce GST from April 2012.

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