The government is considering bringing the three GST-related Bills as money Bills disregarding the Congress’s demand seeking their introduction as financial bills, sources said. The introduction of the GST Bills as money Bills will ensure faster passage as these are required to be voted only in Lok Sabha where the ruling party has a clear majority.
On November 10, the Lok Sabha had listed the Central GST Bill; the Integrated GST; and GST (Compensation for Loss of Revenue) for introduction, consideration and passing in the winter session of Parliament. The Centre has circulated these three draft Bills to states and these will be discussed in the meeting of the GST Council on November 25. The Centre aims to introduce these in the latter part of the current session ending December 16.
WATCH VIDSEODuring the debate in Parliament in August on the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill, the Congress withdrew from its earlier demand for specifying an 18 per cent rate cap in the Constitution but demanded that the government bring the subordinate laws as financial Bills to ensure meaningful debate. Arguing that he couldn’t spell out the government’s stand before the Bills were finalised, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in August: “The Constitutional provision in Article 110 and 117 as to what is a money bill and what is a finance bill is absolutely clear. The word used in Article 110 is ‘shall be,’ that is what shall deemed to be a money bill, so I can’t convert a constitutional requirement into my own option. That’s the option that I don’t have.”
The Central GST Bill will facilitate the levy of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services; the Integrated GST will enable levy of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services; and the third Bill is to facilitate payment of compensation to states for loss of revenue arising on account of the implementation of GST for a period of five years.
The Centre and the states have already decided on a four-tier GST rate: 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. But they are yet to decide on the issue of cross empowerment to avoid dual control.
The constitutional amendment enabling roll-out of the indirect tax regime was passed by Parliament in August following which it became an Act in September after ratification by 16 of the 31 state legislatures. The government aims to introduce GST, which will subsume excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies, from April 1, 2017.
There’s a reason the Government is considering the money Bill route. The contentious issues which could potentially hold up these bills in Rajya Sabha include difference over the calculation of the revenue base of the Centre and states and compensation requirements, the list of exemptions, capping of the rate in the Central GST Bill and threshold limits for the levy of GST.
Even as the Congress had diluted its initial demand for capping the GST rate in the Constitution Amendment Bill, it had specifically asked the government to specify the cap in the Central GST Bill. But the draft bills that have been circulated to the states do not mention the GST rates which are likely to be notified separately, sources said. This particular issue is also been seen as a possible hurdle to the smooth passage of these Bills in the Upper House.