The Tamil Nadu Assembly today adopted the GST bill amid a walkout by the opposition DMK, which wanted it to be referred to a select committee and taken up later for discussion. Seeking to allay opposition fears of a "cascading of taxes" following GST's scheduled rollout on July 1, the government said it will aid GDP growth. Finance Minister D Jayakumar, who intervened during the debate ahead of the passage of the Tamil Nadu Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, also assured the members that "any impact" of the rollout would be taken up with the Centre. The meetings of GST Council, of which state finance ministers are members, will be held regularly and matters related to the unified tax structure can always be taken up, he said. He added that in the present system, there are "various taxes" including cess, and said this could spur the prices of certain commodities. Earlier, participating in the debate, opposition leader and DMK working president M K Stalin demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee for reconsideration and that it should be held back till then. Stalin has already said the GST should not be rolled out on July 1, as decided by the Centre. However, his demand was not met and Stalin led his MLAs out of the House after which the Speaker P Dhanapal went for a voice vote. The treasury benches backed the bill, moved on June 14 by Commercial Taxes Minister K C Veeramani. Interestingly, DMK allies Congress and IUML stayed back when Stalin and his colleagues staged the walkout. DMK member Anitha R Radhakrishnan, who spoke during the debate, said traders will be affected due to GST and alleged that the Centre had not held discussions with them on the matter. The GST should be treated as a "pilot" exercise for the first year and the government should not act on "small discrepancies" by traders vis-a-vis returns, he suggested. Congress member S Vijayadharani said although the GST was piloted by Congress-led UPA, the present BJP government at the Centre had introduced some "anti-people" amendments including cap on tax rates, which, she said, were strongly opposed by her party at the national level. "There is a danger of cascading of taxes and Finance Minister (Jayakumar) should take up the matter at the GST council," she said. Among others, cost of banking services and insurance could see a hike following the GST rollout, she said. IUML legislator KM Mohammed Abubakker expressed fears that the rollout could even make pickles dearer and called for "expanded consultations" with traders before its rollout. Later, Veeramani, speaking on the Bill, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had opposed GST as chief minister of Gujarat but was now keenly implementing it. He also said "we had staged walkout", in an apparent reference to AIADMK MPs' protest during the passage of the GST bill in both Houses of Parliament in August last. In the statement of objects and reasons, mentioned in the bill moved last week, he said the proposed legislation confers power upon the state government to levy GST on intra-state supply of goods and services. "The proposed legislation will simplify and harmonise the indirect tax regime in the state.
It is expected to reduce cost of production and inflation in the economy, thereby making the trade and industry more competitive," Veeramani had said while moving the bill.
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