Updated: August 2, 2016 12:21:03 pm
With the Congress extending its “shubhkamna” (good wishes) for the passage of the goods and services tax (GST) reform, the government listed the Bill, which entails introduction of a single indirect tax regime across the country, for Wednesday in Rajya Sabha. Both BJP and Congress have issued whips, asking members to be present in the House when the Bill is tabled.
To bring the Congress on board, the government last week cleared changes in the Constitutional Amendment Bill including doing away with the additional 1 per cent tax by producing states and compensating all states for any revenue loss in the first five years post the GST rollout. The Cabinet, however, did not accede to the main Congress demand of specifying the GST rate in the Constitution itself. It is likely to be part of the Bill that will be legislated separately by both the Centre and states.
“The GST Bill is listed for consideration and passage on Wednesday and we seek the support of all political parties,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said. Asked if the government had been able to work out a consensus on the issue, he said: “The mood is in favour of its passage. We have discussed it with everybody and we hope to pass it with consensus. I can understand your curiosity to know (the details), but I can’t tell you more at this stage.”
The Congress and CPM, however, maintained they have flagged “concerns”, and the final version of the Bill is still awaited.
Briefing reporters, Congress spokesperson P L Punia said the party has raised certain valid issues and “negotiations are still on”. This was after Anand Sharma, Deputy Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha, met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Punia said GST is very important for the economy, industry, business and the consumer. “We agree with that objective in mind. It is the Congress party which mooted the idea of GST which was opposed by the BJP, especially now Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.
“Consultation is still on and not yet finalised. We are prepared to accept every reasonable solution which does not adversely affect business and industry, and does not adversely affect the federal structure and the consumer at large,” he said. Not taking chances, the Congress has issued a whip to its Rajya Sabha members to be present in the House Wednesday when the Bill comes up.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who also met Jaitley, underlined that only the Constitutional Amendment Bill will be tabled Wednesday. The CPM has pressed for changes in the enabling Bill that will come later.
“On #GST, had a meeting with FM Shri Jaitleyji. We expressed our concerns. He saw the merit in them and said they would be taken on board. On Wednesday, it is only the Constitutional amendment to enable GST which is set to be tabled. We await the final version of the GST bill,” Yechury tweeted.
The BJP has already issued a whip to its members, asking them to be present in the House for the next three days during which the party expects the legislation to be passed.
While the NDA lacks majority in the Upper House, it is confident of the passage of the Bill after reaching out to a number of regional parties and holding back-to-back discussions with the Congress and Left.
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