After a heated debate, both houses of the Maharashtra legislature on Monday unanimously ratified the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, making it the ninth state in the country to do so.
The GST Bill was recently passed in both houses of Parliament and its ratification by various state legislatures is currently underway.
With the GST Bill, India will shed its complex taxation rules and enter a single tax regime replacing around 17 indirect taxes.
Moving a resolution in support of the Bill, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the GST Bill would abolish as many as 17 different types of taxes and lead to lowering of inflation.
"Transparency would increase and corrupt practices will be curbed and having a common tax structure would benefit the country's economy. In Maharashtra, the manufacturing and services sectors would get a boost due to GST," he said.
He pointed out that GST would help eliminate the competition among states for levying taxes and such a tax is already implemented in 125 countries around the world.
Mungantiwar rejected the contention that it will fuel inflation or entail losses for civic bodies and said the government would ensure it would not suffer loss of a single paise.
This year, the GST may lead to certain losses for various civic bodies in the state, but he assured it would be reimbursed by the Centre.
Participating in the debate, Leader of Opposition in the assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress) asked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance "not to grab credit for GST which was brought by the UPA Government in 2010".
"The NDA government at the Centre is creating a misleading impression that it is doing something new for the country. However, it was the then Congress Finance Minister P. Chidambaram who had brought the GST Bill as part of the Congress's 'One Country, One Tax' policy initiative. So the BJP should refrain from taking the credit for it," he argued.
He added that the Congres had been attempting to bring in the GST since the past five years, but it was stalled by the BJP and the legislation languished.
"This is belated wisdom which has dawned on the BJP. It's become a fashion these days to ask what the Congress-UPA did in the past 60 years. The GST was one of the significant achievements of the Congress. The BJP is merely doing copy-paste-rename of schemes and programmes of the Congress," Vikhe-Patil said.
Referring to changing times, Leader of Opposition in the Council Dhananjay Munde (NCP) said that when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, he had staunchly opposed GST and now as Prime Minister, he is pleading for the same GST brought by the Congress.
"However, in the larger interest of the state, we are supporting GST," Munde declared.
The GST Bill has been supported by all political parties in the state though they have expressed their doubts and reservations over certain issues.
The GST Bill has already been ratified by several states, including Assam, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Nagaland, with more states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Goa expected to follow suit soon.
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