Finance minister P Chidambaram is willing to ring in the common impost, goods and services tax (GST) beginning April 1 next year, in case there is consensus among the states.
He apparently signaled that that if states were to achieve consensus even four days ahead of Union budget, he was willing to introduce GST beginning next fiscal.
Chidambaram said he would outline amendments to the constitution on the GST in his budget speech, if there were consensus among states on the issue.
At his pre-budget consultations with finance ministers of states, he is understood to have said that it was time to wrap up lose ends on GST. A state finance minister on condition of anonymity said Chidambaram was ready to include the outlines of the amendment in his budget speech if there is consensus among states.
Budget 2013-14 will be presented on February 28. Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2011 has been introduced in Parliament and is currently under examination by standing committee on finance headed by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
State finance ministers panel is slated to meet on January 28-29 to make their final recommendations on design of GST. Two sub-committees, one on the CST compensation to states and the other on GST design, will submit their reports ahead of the scheduled meeting of finance ministers.
On states’ demand for sorting out compensation against revenue losses owing to phase out of central sales tax (CST), states were told that the centre was open to the idea, but all would depend on the fiscal situation.
After the meeting, Bihar deputy chief minister and chairman of empowered committee of state finance ministers, Sushil Kumar Modi, said all the states demanded compensation for reduction in the CST to two per cent from the earlier four per cent.
Meanwhile, Chidambaram has also asked states to give speedy clearance to projects falling in their jurisdictions to speed up investments. Madhya Pradesh FM Raghavji demanded that 33 services should be included in ‘negative list’ of service tax.
Tamil Nadu finance minister O Panneerselvam has mooted that states be allowed to “dovetail” funding of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana with state public health insurance scheme and central government’s share in old age pension scheme should be increased to at least Rs 750.