Jammu region, Kashmir Valley sharply divided over GST

By Sheikh Qayoom
Jammu/Srinagar, June 27: In Jammu and Kashmir — the only state in the country that is yet to approve implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime — opinion is sharply divided between the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region over the issue.

Traders, industrialists and businessmen in the Jammu region have unequivocally supported implementation of the GST to bring the state in line with the rest of the country.

Rakesh Gupta, President of the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), has set for the state government the deadline till Tuesday to announce implementation of the new tax regime.

Speaking to IANS in Jammu, Gupta said: “We are for uniform taxation structure throughout the country to which Jammu and Kashmir cannot be an exception.

Mushtaq Ahmed Wani, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said: “We have said from day one that any new tax law that erodes the fiscal autonomy of the state would be opposed by us.

“The extension of Amendment 101 in its present form to Jammu and Kashmir would definitely erode the financial autonomy of the state as we would be surrendering our taxation powers to the GST Council.”

Muhammad Yasin Khan, president, Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), another prominent body of local businessmen, traders, transporters and industrialists, told IANS: “Our basic contention is as to why should the state surrender any power given to us on account of the special status to the Centre.

“Surrendering the taxation powers to the GST Council would be a big erosion in the (financial) autonomy of the state.”

Opposition National Conference is of the view that since the implementation of the GST regime would erode the financial autonomy of the state, the party would not support the move in its present form.

Former state Finance Minister and senior National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather said that instead of getting its share of the taxes collected from the Centre, as envisaged under the GST regime, the state should have its own taxation system and collect taxes directly.

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