Modi new chief of GST panel; may expedite roll-out

New Delhi: BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has been elected on Monday as the chairman of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, a development that improves prospects of reaching a consensus on the proposed GST, so far opposed by the BJP-ruled states.

Talking to reporters after his election, Modi, who also holds the finance portfolio of Bihar, advised the Centre to be flexible and take on board concerns of states.

"If the Centre is not flexible, implementation would be difficult. States concerns must be addressed," he said.

BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have so far opposed Goods and Services Tax (GST).

GST Constitution Amendment Bill is pending before Parliament. The main concern of the Opposition-ruled states is that the new tax regime would erode their autonomy to levy taxes.

Interestingly, Bihar, where BJP is a part of the ruling NDA coalition, is in favour of GST.

"We are all very positive that under the leadership of Modi all the issues which have been pending between the Centre and states ... relating to VAT and GST will be amicably solved," BJP-ruled Gujarat's Finance Minister Finance Minister Saurabhbhai Patel said.

Modi's name was proposed by Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and seconded by Orissa Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadai. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was also present during Modi's election.

Former West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta was the chief of empowered panel of state finance ministers earlier.

Introduction of GST, which will subsume central and state taxes like excise, customs, service tax, sales tax and VAT has been pending for years in the absence of political consensus.