‘Presidential Order will not change anything, Drabu’s assurance are hollow: Rather
Abdullah hints at joint Opposition on GST
Srinagar: National Conference on Saturday said the PDP-BJP coalition passed the GST gazette taabled in the Legislative Assembly within ‘half a minute’, disregarding the laid down procedures and the Opposition.
Addressing a press conference at Nawai Subh headquarters in Srinagar, senior NC leader and former Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather said that with the extension of GST to the state, the government has eroded the special status of the state and snatched the powers of the state’s legislature to impose and decide taxes.
‘“Jammu and Kashmir legislature had exclusive powers to impose tax on goods and services. Now with GST extended to the state, those powers have gone and only the Government of India has those powers now,” said Rather.
He added, “Government of India is a partner in Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu Kashmir. Our legislature cannot even fix tax rates or threshold slabs.”
Rather said the 226-page GST gazette prepared in New Delhi was passed “within half-a-minute of being presented in the Legislative Assembly without respecting the Opposition’s views”.
Commenting on the Presidential Order on GST, Rather said the order has not addressed the concerns raised by the NC, Opposition parties, traders and others.
Rather said the CGST (Central GST) will be applied in the State in “totality” while IGST has replace the Central Sales Tax (CST) which Jammu and Kashmir government would levy.
“So the Presidential Order will not change anything. The assurances of the finance minister (Haseeb Drabu) have no value and are hollow as the Special Status of the State has been eroded and tunnelled by extending the GST,” he said.
NC president Farooq Abdullah hinted at a joint opposition of all mainstream political parties against the GST, saying that the opposition parties will be taken into confidence regarding the future strategy on extension of GST to the state.
On his son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah not speaking in the Assembly on GST debate, Abdullah said that he had to attend an ailing relative in a hospital.
The NC leader also lashed out at Drabu for “assuring” that GST council cannot amend the State’s constitution, saying that the “assurance of the Finance Minister hold no value and meaning as the GST council cannot amend the Jammu and Kashmir’s constitution”.
On the statement of Drabu that financial integration of Jammu Kashmir with India was completed in 1956, Rather asked that why was there need to insert Article 246 A in the amendments if the financial integration was already done.
On NC boycotting the last day of the session, Rather said that the government had made its mind on extending the GST to the state.
The NC leader said that the party led by its leader including General Secretary, Ali Muhammad Sagar, Muhammad Shafi Uri and Devender Singh Rana spoke vociferously in the legislature against the GST and danger to the Special Status due to the new tax regime.
(With inputs from KNS)