50% of states expected to approve GST by September, Centre may advance winter session to meet April 1 target
With 8 states already ratifying the Constitution amendment bill to roll out goods and services tax (GST), the required validation of proposed bill by half of the 31 state legislatures is expected to be achieved by early September.
Eight state assemblies which have ratified the bill so far are Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
Maharashtra and Haryana are likely to follow suit soon and the requisite numbers may be in place by September, an official said.
"With required number of states ratifying the Bill, there is a thinking that the Winter Session should be advanced to around November 9 or 10, after the festivities, including Chhath Puja," he said. "In doing that, a consensus with all the political parties will be needed."
The Centre is now moving to the next stage — deciding on the contentious issue of fixing the rates — so that the ambitious reform initiative is in place by April.
The finance ministry is set to hold consultations on the GST rate - which several states suggest should be upwards of 20% to protect their revenue - as well as the other legislations which need to be cleared by Parliament during the winter session for the new tax regime to kick in from April, The Times of India quoted its sources as saying.
Depending on the progress in setting up the GST council and an agreement on the contentious issue of rates, the winter session of Parliament might be brought forward to early November.
Eager to meet the April 1 target to roll out the landmark bill, the government may advance Winter Session of Parliament by a fortnight to get supporting legislations passed, leaving sufficient time for implementation of the new indirect tax regime.
Winter Session of Parliament is normally convened in the third or fourth week of November but this year the government is looking at starting the month-long session immediately after the end of festive season.
Government is of the view that an early Winter Session will also be beneficial as the Budget Session is planned to be convened in the last week of January.