Meghalaya Assembly passes GST Bill

SHILLONG, June 12 – A Special Session of Meghalaya Assembly today unanimously passed the Meghalaya Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017.

The Bill was tabled in the House by Taxation Minister Zenith Sangma, who explained that the new tax regime would be beneficial for “consuming States” like Meghalaya.

Touching upon the various facades of the new legislation, Sangma said, the new tax law would do away with multiple taxes and bring about uniformity in tax collection throughout the country.

The new tax regime is likely to be implemented in the country by July 1 and latest by September 15.

Under the new tax regime, there would be no tax on food grains, cattle, fish, eggs and other such products. However, branded food grains and cereals would attract a five per cent GST.

Other items have been categorised under 12, 18 and 28 per cent tax slabs. Sangma said that the State officials have undergone several training programmes to accustom themselves with the new tax laws.

He further informed members that collection and monitoring of the tax would be done digitally by the GST network and therefore BSNL has been asked to strengthen and broaden the Internet network in the State.

Sangma said that Meghalaya has been able to convince the GST Council to reduce the tax on dry fish, which is one of the staple food products of the people in Meghalaya.

He said that the GST Council fixed 12 per cent GST on dry fish, but due to Meghalaya’s opposition the tax was reduced to five per cent. Another item which was sought to be taxed was arecanut.

However, the State has been able to convince the GST Council for zero tax on arecanut as it is an important product consumed by the people in the State.

Therefore, arecanut would now attract no tax, but dried arecanut or supari would attract five per cent GST, the Minister informed the House.

The Minister also informed that due to insistence of Meghalaya and other Northeastern States, the threshold limit of dealers has been fixed at ten lakh annual income, while in rest of India the threshold limit has been fixed at Rs 20 lakh.

Sangma informed the House that there are 4,500 dealers who have an annual income over Rs 10 lakh, out of the total 30,000 in the State, and they would fall under the GST net.

Several members asked questions to clarify their doubts about the new tax regime and they included Paul Lyngdoh, Jemino Mawthoh (UDP), James Sangma (NPP), Saleng Sangma (Independent) and KP Pangngiang, Diostarness Jyndiang (HSPDP). After the brief explanation and discussion the House unanimously passed the Bill.

Raju Das Assam Tribune

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