Rajya Sabha approved four bills crucial for implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) on Thursday, a move which paves the way for rollout of the ambitious indirect tax reform from July 1.
In a rare show of political consensus, the Congress did not press ahead with amendments and also did not support those moved by other opposition parties such as Trinamool Congress and the Left.
Last week, Lok Sabha had approved the four bills - Central GST bill, Integrated GST bill, Union Territories GST bill and the compensation law. State legislatures will now have to approve the SGST bill (the state goods and services tax). GST has been identified as a top reform priority by the Narendra Modi government and a July 1 rollout is expected to add to the reform credentials of the government. The tax reform will subsume central and state levies such as excise duty, additional duties of customs, service tax, value added tax, central sales tax, entry tax, octroi and luxury tax and is expected to clean up the messy indirect tax structure.
"On May 17-18, we will give final approval to rules and rates, looks like it can be implemented from July 1," finance minister Arun Jaitley said.
The government has indicated that product and service-wise GST rates may be announced closer to the rollout date, while finalising nine sets of rules for the indirect tax reform.
Tax experts said the July 1 rollout seems final.
"The passage of the four bills necessary for introduction of GST by Rajya Sabha reaffirms that July 1 is the go-live date for the most significant indirect tax reform of the country," M S Mani, senior director at consulting firm Deloitte, said.