Finance ministers want to review GST in other countries

Thiruvananthapuram : The two-day meeting of the state finance ministers, which concluded here on Friday, has decided to request the Centre to depute the Empowered Committee members to visit some countries which have adopted the GST.

Fifteen state finance ministers and more than 30 senior officials took part in the meeting here.

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Elaborating on the two-day meeting, chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers and Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani told reporters that the purpose of this visit is to understand the method of implementation.

“We have decided to request the Government of India to depute the Empowered Committee members to visit some countries where GST has been implemented…This visit will help efficient implementation of GST in India,” said Mani.

He also pointed out that the preparation of the GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network) has to be done in a time-bound manner.

“Considering the importance of the work of the GSTN on preparation of IT platform, which is time-bound, they need to start somewhere. So, we have authorised the GSTN to go ahead with their work based on the reports now presented and discussed yesterday. We are confident that the required IT platform will be ready by the time GST is introduced. This is the most crucial work,” said Mani.

The Empowered Committee also agreed that the cost of the GSTN will be borne equally by the states and the Centre.

The committee deliberated on the report of the Joint Committee on Business Processes. Mani said the members needed some more time to discuss and decide on this issue.

“Therefore, this report will be discussed at the next EC to firm up the things. Also the two-day meet transacted all items listed on the agenda,” said Mani.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy addressed the gathering and pointed out that in the era of globalization, the issues related to taxation and public finances are increasingly becoming complex.

“It has become almost impossible to take national policy measures relating to taxation without considering the global scenario and the taxation policies of other countries,” said Chandy and added that GST exists in more than 130 countries.

He said that the present tax system of the country which discriminates between goods and services has been a major hindrance for India to attract foreign direct investment.

“I hope that the introduction of GST will provide a lasting solution to this problem. Also there is a fear among the states about the likely revenue impact of GST on them. The challenge before the EC is to ensure that the states do not experience revenue loss in the post-GST scenario. The Centre has promised to compensate the losses, if any, for the first five years,” said Chandy.