The BJP-JD(U) split will send the UPA government on the hunt for a new chairman of the empowered group on Goods and Services Tax (GST) so far headed by Bihar’s deputy chief minister and finance ministerSushil Kumar Modi.
With the BJP no longer part of the ruling alliance in the state, Modi will have to give up his position as head of the Empowered Committee of State finance Ministers for GST. This would be the second time since the panel was set up in 2000 that the post of chairman is falling vacant.
It was earlier held by CPM’s Asim Dasgupta, who was finance minister in West Bengal’s Left Front government that was later defeated by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the last assembly elections. Dasgupta had been chairing the body for nearly a decade. The then Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had offered the chairmanship of the group to Modi, who after some initial reservations accepted the offer.
The UPA government wanted the BJP leader to head the committee hoping that it would make it easier to iron out differences on the issue with several NDA-ruled states resisting GST. The panel’s chairman has always been from an opposition party.
The BJP leader, who has been working on GST over the past two years, had claimed recently that 80% consensus has been built on the proposed new tax regime and had even Union minister P Chidambaram say that things moved faster after he took over the finance portfolio at the Centre.
However, the change in chairmanship of the panel could upset the timeline as the political climate in the country is getting turbulent in view of the assembly elections to be held later this year and Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.
After the GST Bill is scrutinised by the standing committee on finance, headed by BJP leader Yashwant Singh, the government will have to bring the final draft to Parliament for its approval.