Implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Jammu and Kashmir has fallen prey to the separatist sentiments as the Kashmir centric parties “fear” that the new tax regime would erode the special status of the state.
J&K has isolated itself from rolling out the GST on 1 July in line with other states of the country as the PDP-BJP coalition government led by Mehbooba Mufti failed to build consensus on its implementation.
The opposition parties, including the National Conference, Congress, CPM and certain independents did not allow the GST bill to be introduced during the special session of the legislature in Srinagar on 17 June to pass the Bill. Both houses of legislature were adjourned sine-die amid unruly scenes.
The opposition parties tried to put Mehbooba on the mat by accusing her of behaving like a representative of BJP and trying to erode the special status and financial autonomy of the state.
Apparently unnerved by the strategy of the opposition, Mehbooba has constituted an all party committee to look into the issue of implementation of GST.
Naeem Akhtar, PWD minister and chief spokesman of the J&K government, said that “we” are not in a hurry to implement the GST. Steps will be taken to implement it only when the all party committee submits its report and it may take three months or more.
The finance minister Haseeb Drabu said that the state would suffer an annual loss of about Rs. 5,000 crores if the GST was not implemented here. Trade would be hit if implementation of GST was deferred as consumers will face double taxation.
The opposition parties have added to the atmosphere of hate and suspicion in the valley by claiming that implementation of the central legislation would gradually let Delhi to usurp the special status of J&K that has been granted under the Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
Traders in the valley have threatened a massive agitation if the government implemented the GST. A section of traders in Jammu has also expressed apprehensions on GST.
Mehbooba Mufti herself stepped in to dispel the fear of erosion of autonomy of the state and made it clear that safeguards have been provided in the draft Bill to ensure that the special status of the state remains intact.