The current session of the UP Assembly was convened especially for the introduction and passage of the GST Bill. With both Houses of the state legislature clearing the measure, Uttar Pradesh has joined the likes of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Telangana, Bihar and Rajasthan whose legislatures have given their nod to the indirect tax regime.
The bill, which was yesterday tabled in the Vidhan Sabha, was today passed unanimously through a voice vote with the Opposition not pressing for sending it to the select committee. Initiating the discussion on the bill, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath termed it as revolutionary move which is in the interest of both consumers and traders.
"The GST Bill is the result of the Modi government's move towards wider economic reforms," he said, adding that it will bring uniformity in the tax structure.
Participating in the debate, Leader of the Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary suggested sending the bill to the select committee for wider scrutiny. Nitin Agarwal and Sanjay Garg (SP), Uma Shankar Singh (BSP) and Ajay Kumar Laloo (Congress) raised doubts over certain provisions in the measure and demanded that small traders be exempted from it. However, they were all in favour of the bill.
Members of the opposition parties said that filing of returns online three times a month would be cumbersome and suggested monetary fine in place of jail term for those who do not comply with it. In his reply, the chief minister allayed their fears, giving a point-by-point clarification.
"The doubts of the members over lack of computer knowledge has been taken care of ... It will benefit small traders," he said, adding that the Centre will compensate for the loss of revenue to states with the GST coming into effect.
"There is no need to be afraid of the GST ... All non-BJP ruled states have also passed it. For redressing their problems, the GST council is going to hold a meeting soon," the Chief Minister told both the Legislative Assembly and the Council.
Mr Chaudhary said there had been some doubts over the bill which had kept it pending for so long but after Yogi Adityanath said there was no need to worry, the bill was passed unanimously. The state government is confident that its tax revenue would increase due to the GST, which is touted as the most liberal tax structure to be adopted in the country.
Four key GST legislations - the Central GST Act, the Integrated GST Act, the GST (Compensation to States) Act and the Union Territory GST Act - were passed by Parliament in its last session. The four legislations have since got the president's assent.
Seen as a path-breaking step in the taxation regime, the GST is expected to create a congenial and cohesive atmosphere for business in the country. Different indirect taxes like the central excise duty, central sales tax and service tax are to be merged with the C-GST, while the S-GST will subsume state sales tax, VAT, luxury tax and entertainment tax.
The 'consumer state' of Uttar Pradesh is projected to be a net tax gainer under the new tax regime as the GST is a destination-based taxation system as against manufacturing source based. The state Commercial Tax Department had been holding consultative meetings for several months with all stakeholders, including traders and tax experts, to elicit their views on the new tax structure.