Traders, civil society form new body to oppose GST

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Srinagar, Upping the ante against Goods and Service Tax (GST) law, all Kashmir-based trade bodies and a civil society formations on Sunday came together to form the “Kashmir Coordination Committee” to resist implementation of the new tax regime in the state.

The decision followed a series of meeting between trade and business bodies and civil society groups to pressurize the government to come up with its own law on the GST, said former president Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir, Shakeel Qalander.

The Valley-based traders and opposition parties including National Conference are at the forefront of opposing the GST which aims at economic integration of the states with union of India.

They have been opposing the extension of 101st Amendment Act of the Constitution of India to J&K that would bring the state within the ambit of the GST, arguing the move would force the state to surrender the powers to collect taxes to New Delhi.

“We reject the central law and we will in unison oppose its implementation to J&K,” said Qalander.

A senior member of Kashmir Economic Alliance, which is now part of the KCC, said the committee would ask the government to come up with its own GST model that will take care of state’s autonomy and its economy.

“The law shall not infringe upon our state’s special position neither strangulate our economy,” he said.

Though the state government has repeatedly said it would ensure protection of the state’s fiscal autonomy as well as Article 370 while allowing implementation of GST to the state, it hasn’t however explained the mechanism by which it intends to safeguard the states special position.

“We are mulling to bring all other association and organization under the KCC to make it a movement against implementation of GST in its present form to J&K,” said Qalander.

Having missed the July 1 deadline for implementation of GST to J&K owing to lack of consensus and strong opposition to the central law, the government has now convened Assembly session from July 4 to discuss its implementation.

JK CAN BRING ITS OWN GST LAW: RATHER

J&K government is “constitutionally competent” to bring its own law on Goods and Service Tax (GST), said National Conference senior leader Abdur Rahim Rather on Sunday, reiterating that the implementation of the new tax regime in its present form will have “far-reaching consequences” on Article 370 and the state’s fiscal autonomy.

“Our position is that till we get constitutional, administrative and economic safeguards, National Conference will not accept the GST. The government should not do it (implement GST in its present form). But if they still do it, they will have to face the consequences,” Rather said.

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