New Delhi: The Goods and Service Tax Bill, technically called the Constitutional (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, was introduced for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
If approved, it will be introduced in the country after a 13-year-long journey since it was first discussed in the Kelkar Task Force report on indirect taxes in 2003.
The GST Bill, termed as the most radical tax reform since Independence, seeks to subsume all central indirect taxes like excise duty, countervailing duty and service tax, as also state levies like Value Added Tax, entry tax and luxury tax, to create a single, pan-India market.
Here is a brief chronology outlining the major milestones on the proposal for introduction of GST in India:
1. In 2003, the Kelkar Task Force on indirect tax had suggested a comprehensive Goods and Services Tax (GST) based on VAT principle.
2. A proposal to introduce a national GST by April 1, 2010, was first mooted in the Budget Speech for the financial year 2006-07.
3. Since the proposal involved reforms and restructuring of not only indirect taxes levied by the Centre but also the states, the responsibility of preparing a design and road map for the implementation of GST was assigned to the Empowered Committee (EC) of State Finance Ministers.
4. Based on inputs from the Centre and states, the empowered committee released its first discussion paper on GST in November, 2009.
5. In order to amend the Constitution to enable introduction of GST, the Constitution (115th Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in March 2011. As per the prescribed procedure, the Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance of Parliament for examination and report.
6. The Parliamentary Standing Committee submitted its report in August, 2013, to the Lok Sabha. Most of the recommendations made by the Empowered Committee and the Parliamentary Standing Committee were accepted and the draft Amendment Bill was suitably revised.
7. The 115th Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2011, for the introduction of GST introduced in the Lok Sabha in March 2011 lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
8. In June 2014, the draft Constitutional Amendment Bill was sent to the Empowered Committee after approval of the new government.
9. Based on a broad consensus reached with the Empowered Committee, the Cabinet on December 17, 2014, approved the proposal for introduction of a bill in Parliament for amending the Constitution to facilitate the introduction of GST in the country. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014, and was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2015. It was then referred to the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, which submitted its report on July 22, 2015.
10. Since then the bill has been stuck in a logjam as the government lacked majority in the Rajya Sabha and at the same time failed to reach a consensus on it with the major political parties, especially the Congress.