Gearing up for GST

June 17, 2017 0 Comments EDITORIAL 192 Views
Gearing up for GST

Jammu and Kashmir is all set to witness a charged atmosphere over the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill and both the coalition government and opposition are on a collision course. Though the general public does not know much about the law that is to be passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to pave way for this central legislation, it is already snowballing into a controversy because of its linkage to the special status of the state. No doubt that the government hurried at the last moment to see that this law was seen through first by the cabinet and later by the assembly but it raises many questions about how state would fit in the overall tax regime that is being rolled out by the Centre from July 1. Any law linked to state’s special status surely raises eye brows and the concern then shapes up in a public discourse. In this case the issue of financial autonomy has also been raised and that is why the premier trade bodies such as Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) have also joined the bandwagon thus expanding the scope of agitation. Even as the government tried to reach out to opposition, the National Conference on Wednesday said that it wouldn’t allow government to go ahead with the law without clarifying the confusion it had created during the All Party Meeting. Now the assembly is slated to meet on June 17 and it is likely to go into recess and meanwhile Chief Minister is contemplating to constitute a joint committee of all parties. Deliberations in this case are must and to discuss the extension of constitutional amendment in the Assembly is a welcome step since 46 such amendments have been implemented in the state in the past without taking the elected house into confidence. However, the concerns expressed by various quarters vis-a-vis the special position of the state have already dominated the debate and even the resistance camp has raised its voice even as their larger goal is about “Azadi”. But when it comes to the “residual autonomy” it becomes an emotive issue for all. This issue has the potential to push Kashmir into another phase of unrest in case it is presented as a move to further weaken the autonomy. Financial autonomy has been compromised in recent times in respect of Jammu and Kashmir Bank and the larger autonomy has also been given away because of our rulers’ tendency to give away power to secure their own power. However, this law will place the state in a different rather difficult position. Whether the state can afford financial isolation and does not become part of the larger set up remains to be seen. State has already been part of many such arrangements. But it is important to see that state does not compromise on its special position.

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