Govt working to roll out GST from April 1, 2017

New Delhi: Setting a target of April 1, 2017 for rollout of the Goods and Services Tax, the government today unveiled a detailed roadmap for its implementation and said it is aiming for an “optimal” rate of taxation though the final decision will be taken by the GST Council.

“What we need is an optimal (GST) rate,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while addressing a press conference a day after the Rajya Sabha approved the historic Constitution Amendment Bill, paving way for a complete overhaul of the indirect tax regime in the country.

Once implemented, the GST will subsume various taxes including excise, services tax, octroi and other levies and the proceeds will be shared between the Centre and states.

On what would be the GST rate, Jaitley said the GST Council, which will comprise representatives of the Centre and states, will take a view and “draw a balance” taking into account the revenue requirements and the need to keep the tax rates low.

Talking about the roadmap for the GST rollout, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the government is looking at April 1, 2017 as the target date for implementation.

“Within the next 30 days, we expect 50 per cent of the states — about 16 — to approve the Constitution Amendment Bill,” he said.

The Bill, which was cleared by the Rajya Sabha last night, is likely to be approved by the Lok Sabha this week after incorporating changes made by the Upper House.

Jaitley said the government is working to roll out the GST as “reasonably quick” as possible.

“It is always good to set a stiff target,” Jaitley said when asked about the April 2017 deadline. .