November 2017 News

Kashmir Traders Demand GST Rollback, Allege 'deception'

1 November 2017
Kashmir Monitor
Firdous Hassan

Srinagar: Traders' amalgam Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC) on Wednesday accused the state government of extending Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the state in a 'deceitful manner'. 'The GST has further eroded our autonomy and the government is taking pride in it,' Convener JKCC Siraj Ahmad said in a press conference here. 'The JKCC tried a lot to convince the state government about its outcome, but they were in a hurry to implement GST without listening to anyone or seeing any reason.' He reiterated their demand of withdrawal of presidential order 'by virtue of which GST was extended to JK'. 'We demand roll back of GST in present form and declaration of JK as Free Economic Zone,' he said. The amalgam accused the PDP Member of parliament Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu, of 'playing a pivotal role in eroding state's fiscal autonomy by misleading people'. 'State government took the trade for a ride and surrendered everything on the fiscal autonomy front and sovereignty of the state,' Ahmad said. He blamed Beigh for not considering the suggestions from trade bodies regarding protection of fiscal autonomy of the state. 'Beigh appreciated the apprehensions put forth by the trade bodies, and assured us of accommodating our concerns and suggestions in safeguarding the state's special position. Even at all these government levels, we were promised of rolling out a State GST tax law without compromising the state's sovereignty,' the Convener said. 'However, to our utter dismay, this promise was not kept and instead a resolution was directly presented before the Legislative Assembly on 3rd of July, 2017,'he said. Ahmad blamed the mainstream parties for 'collaborating' to pass GST in the assembly. 'Some were present in the house and some were absent from the house but in the end, we dare say, that those present supported it with their presence and those absent were also in support of it with their absence. It was sort of a fixed match or shall we say a fixed assembly session,' he added. Co-Convener, JKCC Mubeen Shah said that the government should be held accountable for extending the GST to the state in present form. 'We understand that both of them need to be accountable and therefore they have no right to stay at their respective positions.' he said adding that 'whole system seems to be rotten and in this system there is no door which one can knock upon.' 'The erosion of Jammu and Kashmir Special Status and its fiscal autonomy by implementation of the GST has even been acknowledged by the Indian National Congress Party which stated that the law would infringe upon the Special Status of J&K.'

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