Assam Assembly passes Bill to amend state GST Act

Assam Assembly passes Bill to amend state GST Act, five other Bills

Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said the amendments have been brought as per decisions in the GST Council meet

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Assam Assembly on Monday passed six amendment Bills including one that made certain changes in the state's Goods and Services Tax Act and another that allows the government to raise the borrowing ceiling by 0.50 per cent of the GSDP.

The House also passed by voice vote four other Bills related to Agricultural Income Tax, Value Added Tax, taxation on specified lands and electricity duty.

Replying to a discussion on the Assam Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said the amendments have been brought as per decisions in the GST Council meet. She said, “The changes are in line with those incorporated in the Central GST Act. We are obligated to accept the amendments and incorporate them in our state Act too.” “This is in keeping with the ‘one nation, one tax’ policy of the Centre,” Neog added.

Earlier taking part in the discussion and moving an amendment to the Bill, senior Congress MLA Bharat Chandra Narah said certain provisions of the Bill should be changed to suit the needs of Assam and other North-eastern states. “There used to be special provisions for NE states as our geographical location and terrain are different from most other states of the country. We hope the minister will present this before the GST Council and ask for special consideration for us,” he said.

Another Opposition party, AIUDF, also brought in a similar amendment. Both the suggestions were later withdrawn and the Bill was passed by voice vote.

Replying to a discussion on the Assam Agricultural Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Neog said that the provisions of the Bill were only applicable for tea gardens. Agriculturists and farmers are exempted from any taxation under the Bill, which seeks to amend the existing Act to increase the fine amount for late filing of return for enforcing compliance, she added.

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Opposition Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed and AIUDF’s Aminul Islam had earlier expressed apprehension that this levy of fine will adversely impact the farmers of the state, which was assuaged by the minister.

When the Assam Electricity Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was taken up for consideration, Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dev Purkayastha urged the government to ensure that offline mode of payment of electricity bills should not be discontinued as many people don’t have access to online services yet.

The finance minister assured the opposition legislator that offline collection of dues is not being done away with. Through the amendment, a new section has been inserted in the original Act of 1964 for automation of the business process and the Commissioner of Taxes has been empowered to issue instructions, with prior approval of the government, on the procedure of e-filing of returns and e-payments.

The Assam Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which amends the Act of 2003 by inserting a new sub-section to provide an option of issuance of e-voice with digital signatures by the dealers, was also passed.

The House passed the Assam Taxation (On Specified Lands) (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which added a new section in the Act of 1990 for applicability of the provisions of Assam VAT Act, 2003 under the Specified Lands Act for its proper administration.

The Bill also has a new section for automation of business processes and empowers the Commissioner of Taxes, Assam, to issue instructions with prior approval of the government on e-filing and e-payments.

The Assembly also passed the Assam Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that enables the government to raise the borrowing ceiling by 0.50 per cent of the state's GSDP.