Cooperate on GST, Pranab urges states

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday urged Rajya Sabha members to push their state governments for a goods and services tax (GST) regime, a day afer the states rejected the centre’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to introduce the measure.

‘Some more push is needed. I request the leadership sitting here to take it up with the states and chief ministers,’ Mukherjee said while replying to the debate in the Rajya Sabha on price rise.

The finance minister urged the house to support the government in bringing the GST regime.

‘If we receive cooperation from all concerned and introduce GST and bring within its purview petrol and other petroleum products, and with your support introduce it from April 2011, I do feel the variations in petroleum prices can be taken care of,’ Mukherjee contended.

‘If we have to introduce GST from April 2011, an amendment bill should be introduced in this session. Only then can it can go to the standing committee and be passed in the winter session,’ he said.

Cutting across party lines, a number of states, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have refused to endorse a constitutional amendment on GST, arguing this impinged on their fiscal autonomy.

The finance minister also suggested forming a council of finance ministers, including all state finance ministers.

‘I have no intention of becoming the super finance minister to interfere with the state GST,’ he said.

He, however, pleaded for more powers for the union finance minister to enable changes in the indirect tax regime from time to time that would be ratified by parliament.

‘The states will have the liberty to make changes in the tax structure. The passage of this bill will be the most revolutionary step in the country’s tax reforms,’ he said.

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