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Odisha assembly passes GST Bill

BS Reporter/Bhubaneswar 19 May 17 | 10:10 PM

The Odisha legislative assembly on Friday passed the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Bill, 2017 and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill, 2017, preparing the ground for transition to the new taxation regime.

Both the Bills were unanimously passed in the assembly through a voice vote. Though all political parties backed the GST Bill, the Opposition Congress questioned the haste in its passage. The Congress had moved a Cut Motion to refer the Bill to a select committee of the house, asking for more time to debate on its various provisions. The motion was, however, rejected.

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"This is a very important and sensitive Bill. It took 11 years for the Parliament to pass the GST Bill. The legislators have not gone through the Bill or understood it. More time should have been set aside to discuss and debate its detail. The GST Bill has 174 clauses that needs careful attention. There is a lack of clarity on whether Odisha stands to benefit or lose from the introduction of GST," said senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra.

After the enactment of the GST Bill, a wide gamut of items would come under its purview. Liquor and petroleum products would however, remain out of GST's ambit. The goods that would be exempted from the new tax regime include liquor, petrol, diesel, narcotics and rectified spirit. On these products, the state government would levy VAT at the rate of 20 per cent.

The two Bills were passed following a debate among the legislators at a two-day special session of the state assembly convened on May 18 and 19.

"The proposed GST will simplify harmonise the indirect tax regime in the country. It is expected to reduce cost of production and inflation in the economy, thereby making the Indian trade and industry more competitive. Due to the seamless transfer of input tax credit from one stage to another in the chain of value addition, there is an in-built mechanism in the design of the GST that would incentivise tax compliance by taxpayers", said the state's finance minister, Shashi Bhushan Behera.

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