Congress open-minded on GST bill

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday said it was open to discussions with the government on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill that parliament needs to pass.

“We are open-minded on the issue,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on the sidelines of a press briefing.

He was asked if the Congress would be remain rigid on its opposition to certain aspects of the proposed legislation.

Asked if Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had already rejected the concerns raised by the opposition on the GST bill, Azad said: “I raised this issue with the minister at the all-party meeting.

“Two newspapers reported differently on his statement on GST bill. One said it would reach out to the opposition and the other said he had said that the suggestions given by the opposition were preposterous.

“When I asked him which statement of his was correct, he assured me there will be a discussion on the bill,” Azad said.

“For us, each bill or legislation is important. With regard to GST, we have made it clear that the GST was our bill and it was drafted by the Congress. We are ready for discussion. We have genuine concerns and that should be taken on board.

“Our stand on the GST bill is that it should be pro-industry, pro-trade and pro-consumer. It should help all the three sections.

“That’s why we are pressing for a cap of 18 percent tax. In other countries, it is 14 percent. But keeping in mind the resource mobilization in our country, we said it should be 18 percent.

“That’s why we said that there should be amendment in the bill. We cannot afford to burden the people with more than 18 percent GST,” he added.

The Congress said there will be discussions on other issues as well during the winter session of parliament.

“There will be discussions on intolerance, price rise, farmers’ plight, flood situation, all the recent incidents of communal disharmony in the country, draught.

“We will also discuss issues of women safety, Prevention of Corruption Act, child labour, and extradition of Lalit Modi,” said Azad.

“The opposition will be cooperating with the government but it is for the government to accommodate the viewpoints of the opposition.

“It is for the government to decide whether they are interested in running the government or not,” added Azad.

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