The states may disagree on the implementation roadmap for the ambitious goods and services tax (GST) but their finance ministers appear to agree on one thing — the need to make that extra foreign trip to understand the “nuances” of the GST better.
Next month, the empowered committee of state finance ministers, which is working with the Centre on thrashing out the road ahead for GST, will embark on a trip to China and Russia, its seventh such foreign trip since the idea of the new tax regime was first floated.
The committee is planning the trip between August 19 and September 4 to “study the finer aspects of their indirect tax model”, sources told The Indian Express.
After implementing value-added tax (VAT) across the country, the committee of state finance ministers was asked by the Centre to work with it on preparing a roadmap for introduction of GST, the next logical step to VAT, from April 1, 2010. An announcement to this effect was made by the then finance minister P Chidambaram in Budget 2008. However, the implementation of the new tax regime, which would cut down the cascading of tax, is yet to see the light of the day, having missed several deadlines now due to the flip-flop of states on important issues and an overall lack of consensus.
But the trips have been coming thick and fast. In 2006-07, the committee, headed by the then finance minister of West Bengal Asim Dasgupta visited Canada, London and Rome on a study tour. A year later, a delegation of state finance ministers along with state and central officials visited Australia and Singapore between May 12 and May 23 and later to Brazil and London between August 25 and September 5 “for studying the complexity of inter-state trade and how to track it without causing any distortion in pricing of commodities”.
After a three-year hiatus, the committee, along with central and state officials, embarked on a whirlwind tour, visiting seven countries. In 2011, a study tour was organised to Paris, Madrid, Brussels and Luxembourg from September 7-17, during which the delegation had discussions with OECD officials, EU officials and judges in European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The visit was made under the chairmanship of Bihar’s former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi.
The year 2012 saw them visiting Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver in Canada and Tokyo in Japan from September 12-26 to study the implementation of GST in both these countries. The committee said they had “useful discussion with the ministers and senior officials of Canada and Japan”. Last year, the committee organised a visit continued…