With J&K on board, country integrated economically: Arun Jaitley 

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has said with the passage of Goods and Service Tax legislation by the Jammu & Kashmir, the country, which was politically integrated, had now integrated economically. He said the first move towards the game changing tax reform was made by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government 17 years back, and not the Congress.

“…in the last 70 years, this is the first time that the country had become economically integrated,” he said at a felicitation function organisation by Delhi BJP. “…The J&K consumers also feel they are integrated with India, and it is beneficial for us,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir was the only state that had not approved a legislation to implement the GST even after the new indirect tax regime was rolled out on July 1.

Jaitley said separatist had spread the propoganda that GST should not be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir as otherwise there will be “financial integration of the state with India.”

The Centre had to then emphasise to the state that its people will lose out as they will pay tax twice over instead of just one GST, making goods costlier to them, he said. “I wrote to Mehbooba Mufti saying that goods will become costlier (if you don’t implement GST).

So you have choose the path of either going with the separatists or thinking about the welfare of the people of the state,” Jaitley said.

J&K assembly on Wednesday adopted the resolution to implement the new tax regime and it now requires Presidential assent to implement the new tax in the state. GST, he said, has integrated the nation as an economic entity by replacing over a dozen state and central levies with just one tax and one rate.

GST VAJPAYEE GOVT INITIATIVE

The Vajpayee government constituted a task force, which in 2003 submitted a report saying central and state levies should be unified into a GGST, he said at a public rally on the new tax regime. The government changed in 2004 and the incoming Congress saw merit in the argument mooted in the report.

The then finance minister P Chidambaram in 2006 spoke of GST and set 2010 as the deadline for rolling out the indirect tax, the minister said, adding that the Congress leader could not implement the plan.

In 2011, the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee introduced a Constitutional Amendment to bring GST. But the UPA could not get all states on board because they could not resolve how to compensate losses to manufacturing states arising because of GST being a destination-based tax, he said.

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