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GST Council approves final draft of Central GST, Integrated GST laws

The GST Council meeting headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley approved the final draft of Central GST (CGST) and Inter-State GST (IGST) laws.

The approval of CGST and IGST laws is considered as significant step towards meeting the July 1, 2017 deadline for rolling out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Key Facts
  • The UT-GST and SGST laws will be approved in the next GST Council meeting. It already has approved compensation bill.
  • Once all the bills are approved by the council, the Union government will collectively take the bills to the Union cabinet for its approval.
  • Subsequently, the CGST, IGST and UTGST laws and Compensation law to compensate states for revenue losses arising from a transition to GST will require the approval of Parliament. SGST law will require the nod of state legislative assemblies.
  • There will be no change in the tax rates approved by the Council. However, there will be a cap of 40% in the legislation.
  • Agriculturists will be exempted from registering under GST regime. Business entities with an annual turnover of up to 20 lakhs rupees will also not be required registration under the new tax regime.
About Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • GST is proposed uniform indirect taxation regime throughout the country. It will merge most of the existing indirect taxes into single system of taxation.
  • It is consumption based tax levied on the supply of Goods and Services which will be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method.
  • GST will be a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India. It was approved by The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.
  • It seeks to enhance fiscal federalism by removing indirect tax barriers across states and integrate the country into a common market, boosting government revenue and reducing business costs.

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West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017 passed

The State Legislative Assembly has passed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017, by a voice vote.

It repeals the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010. It aims to overhaul private healthcare in state and take stringent measures against health institutions accused of medical negligence and corrupt practices.

Key Facts
  • The legislation seeks to bring transparency, end harassment of patients and check medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes. It brings clinics, dispensaries and polyclinics under its ambit.
  • It makes mandatory for private hospitals to pay compensations in case of medical negligence. Hospitals violating this law will be liable to pay fine of Rs. 10 lakh or more.
  • Compensation in case medical negligence: Rs 3 lakh for minor damages, Rs 5 lakh for big damages and minimum Rs. 10 lakh in case of death. This compensation will be given within six months. The compensation amount will not be more than Rs 50 lakh.
  • Regulatory Authority: Establishes 13 member West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission to monitor activities of private hospitals.
  • The high-powered commission will be headed by sitting or former judge. It will have status of a civil court. It will be empowered to summon both parties in case of a dispute and examine case before passing an order.
  • Penal measures: It ranges between compensation and scrapping the licence of the physician/hospital. The commission can put offender behind bars up to 3 years. It can also order trying the offender under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions if it deems fit.
  • Fair Pricing: Hospitals with more than 100 beds must start fair price medicine shops. They are mandated to declare bed charges, ICU charges and package costs which can’t be altered.

Bengal Bill

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Government notifies Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017

The Union Government has notified the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017 to prohibit the holding, transferring or receiving of scrapped old Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes from 31 December, 2016,

This law makes possession of more than a certain number of the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes a criminal offence.

Key Features of Act
  • It ends the liability of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government on the demonetised Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes.
  • It prohibits the holding, transferring or receiving of demonitised notes from 31 December, 2016 and confers power on the court of a first class magistrate to impose the penalty.
  • Possessing more than 10 pieces of old notes by individuals and more than 25 pieces for study, research or numismatics purposes will attract a fine of Rs. 10,000 or five times the value of cash held, whichever is higher.
  • Fine of a minimum of Rs, 50,000 will be imposed for a false declaration by persons for being abroad during the demonetisation period (9 November-30 December, 2016).
Background

The Union Government had demonetised old Rs.500 and Rs. 1,000 notes from November 2016 on the recommendations of the RBI’s central board to eliminate unaccounted money and fake currency notes from the financial system. As a follow up, The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017 was passed by Parliament in February 2017 and received assent of President Pranab Mukherjee on 27 February 2017. The law aims to eliminating the possibility of running a parallel economy using demonetised currency notes.  The demonetisation had abruptly sucked out 86% of the currency in circulation in the form of Rs.500 and Rs. 1,000 out of the system.

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