Maharashtra GST workshop turns as Flop show

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Mumbai : The workshop on Goods and Services Tax (GST) arranged by the state government for MLAs and MLCs saw a poor turnout. Out of a total strength of 365, more than 280 legislators skipped the workshop. While some legislators cited pre-scheduled programmes for their failure to attend the workshop, some of those who attended it said they would comment on it after studying about the GST.

During the workshop, the finance and planning secretaries as well as Sales Tax Commissioner addressed members of both Houses in the central hall of the state legislature. The workshop was organised 11 days before the special session of the legislature in which the GST bill will be taken up for passage between May 20 and 22.

The workshop was arranged to educate members about the basic idea and provisions of the bill so that they could study about it and perform well during the special session. As Parliament has cleared the GST bill, it is for state legislatures to clear it for implementation.

When legislators Jayant Patil (MLC from Peasants and Workers Party of India), and MLAs Shashikant Shinde (Nationalist Congress Party), Rajesh Kshirsagar and Pratap Sarnaik (both Shiv Sena) were asked why they had not attended the workshop, they cited pre-scheduled programmes as the reason behind their absence.

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When The Asian Age spoke to MLCs Hemant Takle and Kiran Pawaskar of the Nationalist Congress Party and MLAs Ashish Shelar and Dyaneshwar Changule from Shiv Sena on what they learnt from the workshop, they said they would study about the GST and then comment on it.

Commenting on the poor turnout for the workshop, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief whip, Raj Purohit, said, “Our colleagues had pre-decided meetings, so they couldn’t attend the workshop. But as a party we are going to hold a special workshop for our members as well as other leaders to educate them about GST so that they can pass on the information to the public.”

Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, leader of Opposition in the Assembly, said, “There might be different reasons for members to not attend the workshop. But, we have internally arranged small sessions to guide them about the bill.”

An informative booklet distributed to members said different kinds of taxes would be included in the state GST: entertainment, VAT (value added tax), lottery-betting and gambling, purchase tax, surcharges, octroi-LBT (local body tax) and other entry taxes and luxury taxes. The Central GST and Integrated GST will have other taxes in addition to the state GST.

Though the exact structure of tax on goods for the entire country is yet to be formally decided by the GST council, members were informed about the arrangement that has been finalised in the GST council. There will be no tax on essential goods, a tax of below five per cent on items of mass consumption, a tax between 12 and 18 per cent on consumer-oriented goods as well as services. All luxury products, tobacco products, cold drinks, etc will be taxed 28 per cent and above.

Source : Asian Age


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