Both the houses of Bihar legislature(विधान मंडल), at a special sitting on Monday, passed the Bihar goods and service tax bill, 2017 and the Bihar taxation (amendment) bill, 2017, both by a voice vote, paving the way for a possible July 1 roll out of the GST, in the state. As such, Bihar became the second state, after Telangana, to ratify the legal framework for the roll out of the GST (goods and services tax), the single tax regime to replace multiple tax structure of states and Centre. Chief minister Nitish Kumar was present in the assembly when commercial taxes minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav moved two GST-related bills. In post-lunch session, the two bills were taken up in the state legislative council and passed unanimously(सर्वसम्मति से), there as well.
Kumar said despite(बावजूद) change of guard at the Centre, by way of coming into office of the BJP-led Narendra Modi government, his government had remained unwavering(अटूट) in its support for the GST.
“This was exactly why we had not prorogued the two houses of the Bihar legislature, even after the conclusion of its budget session. We realized the matter was in Parliament and the states were required to ratify it. I thank all parties for supporting GST,” he added. “The credit for GST goes not to any individual or party, but to all, including previous governments. It was at the CM’s initiative that I had accepted the post of chairman of the Empowered Committee of State FMs (2011-13), which spearheaded the implementation of GST,” said BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
He said the state should also strive to bring petroleum products, natural gas, alcohol, real estate etc. into the GST fold. “Bihar will be the biggest beneficiary of the measure, while tax evasion would become difficult”, he added.
Modi said: “There may be some confusion initially, like it happened with VAT. But ultimately small businessmen will gain. It is the beginning of one nation-one tax and one market environment, which will help lead to increase in GDP by 1-2%”.
However, during the debate in the assembly on the GST-related bills, Congress and BJP members seemed to be trying to give credit to their respective parties for the GST, considered the biggest tax reform in independent India.
Commercial taxes minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, who moved the bills, said it was refreshing to see all parties joining hands to build national consensus on a pro-poor issue.
Praising chief minister Nitish Kumar for backing GST from the very outset, he said: “A statesman looks at the next generation, a politician looks at the next election. We are proud of our CM, who saw the benefits of GST and never deviated from his stand.”
Leader of Opposition in the assembly Prem Kumar (BJP) thanked the Prime Minister for the historic decision on GST. Congress leader Sadanand Singh, however, credited GST to a 2006 Congress initiative, stalled by the BJP, then in the opposition at the centre.
Yadav said the reality was that talks over a uniform tax structure in this country were on since pre-independence days.
“Truth cannot be negated with rhetoric. It is on record how BJP ruled states like Gujarat, Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh had opposed it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then the Gujarat CM. But I am happy that today, all have come on board. As it is a new system of taxation, there will be initial problems. But all in all it will benefit the poor, as their interest has been taken into account,” he added.