Accusing the Congress of delaying the long-pending goods and services tax (GST) due to “collateral reasons”, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday indicated that while the new indirect tax regime may not be able to secure passage in the ongoing session, the government will push for other reform bills in the remaining three days of the session, which ends on Wednesday.
“As far as the GST is concerned, I have no doubt in my mind that an attempt to delay it is entirely for collateral reasons. And the only collateral reason, I suspect is — if I cannot do it, why should somebody else do it. That I regret, when Indian politics becomes hurdle to India’s larger interests,” the finance minister said at the annual general meeting of Ficci.
He said that accepting the conditions put across by the Congress in toto would make the proposed new indirect tax system flawed and “I think a delayed GST is better than a flawed GST”.
The government will however take up three crucial legislation — Arbitration Bill, Bill to set up benches in high courts to deal with commercial disputes, and Bankruptcy Bill — in Parliament in the remaining three days. While the Arbitration Bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, the other two bills will be introduced in Parliament.
On Arbitration Act he said that in terms of ease of doing business, India has almost ceased to be a centre for dispute adjudication and arbitration. “We have to bring it back. Indian companies have to go through costly international arbitration and find it prohibitive. Therefore Arbitration Act, which provides for fast-track mechanism with single arbitral member and outer time limit of six months to complete adjudication, will come up in these three days,” he added.
Emphasising that in democracy, “it is politics that determines its policies and so the future depends on quality of politics we have”, Jaitley said that in terms of economic growth, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were a wasted era.
“In 1971, you could survive on slogan without performance, in 1991 it was difficult because you started a change and Indian polity had fear of unknown. So the constituency which opposed the change was much larger. 2015 is different. One of the major thing is that India has become so aspirational that even when things are happening, there is a section which feels that why aren’t they happening quickly…,” he said.
He also exuded confidence in the economy’s macro-economic parameters.