Sustained efforts by the opposition to get the GST constitutional amendment bill referred to a parliamentary standing committee failed in the Lok Sabha with Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai informing the House that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had decided not to do so. Following this, discussion on the bill began.
Stating that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had requested the Speaker not to refer the bill to the standing committee, the Deputy Speaker said Jaitley had told the Speaker that there had been “detailed deliberations with the Empowered Committee of the State Finance Ministers” and the present bill had since been revised based on the recommendations of the standing committee and the empowered committee. “In view thereof, the honourable Speaker did not refer the bill to the standing committee,” the Deputy Speaker said.
Minutes earlier, Jaitley had made out a case for why the government was “extremely keen” to go ahead with the consideration and passage of the bill. “Having spent two-and-a-half years in the standing committee, having had dozens of meetings of the Empowered Committee of the Finance Ministers, if you want to further delay it, the effect is going to be that the April 1, 2016, deadline will be lost. And if the deadline is lost, then the whole financial year is going to go,” Jaitley said, stressing a delay would make the states lose for one more year.
He said it was “no longer valid” to say that bill has not gone to a standing committee. “It has spent two-and-a-half years before the standing committee and thereafter, it has spent time in dozens and dozens of meetings of Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers under three different finance ministers and four different chairpersons. It is only then that a consensus between the Centre and the states and almost a mere unanimity has been achieved. After that, if you want to delay it, I would suggest that no purpose will be served,” Jaitley said, “literally requesting” and “beseeching” the House to “rise above partisan considerations”
Earlier, BJD MP Bhatruhari Mahtab called it “a new bill” and said “it should be referred to the standing committee for consideration”. He said “ there are a number of provisions in this bill which were not deliberated by the standing committee earlier”.