Government confident of getting GST bill through

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New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) The government on Tuesday appeared confident of getting through Rajya Sabha the constitutional amendment bill that would pave way for introduction of Goods and Services Tax in the country.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said government is “positive” about getting the bill through.

“There is a consensus among all parties regarding the importance and requirement for the GST bill,” he said, but did not give any details on how many parties have officially expressed their support for the bill.

“Everyone has the feeling it will be a win-win situation for all. The bill is coming after much deliberation and we are positive about the outcome. We are confident all parties will come together to get the bill passed,” the minister added.

A time of five hours has been allocated for the debate and government expects to conclude the debate and pass the bill on Wednesday itself.

“Usually in constitutional amendment bills, parties ensure presence of all members. At times members have even come on stretcher… so government always tries to get the voting concluded on the same day,” another minister said.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed his party members about the bill at the meeting of BJP’s parliamentary party on Tuesday morning.

Sources said Jaitley asked the members to read and understand the bill before it is taken up.

Both the BJP and the Congress have already issued a whip to their members making it compulsory for them to be present in the house on Wednesday.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, which will be taken up on Wednesday, will amend Constitution to introduce the goods and services tax (GST).

Consequently, the GST subsumes various central indirect taxes including the Central Excise Duty, Countervailing Duty, Service Tax, etc. It also subsumes state value added tax, octroi and entry tax, luxury tax among others.

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The bill has been long stuck as government does not have a majority in the upper house, and main opposition Congress was so far not in agreement to the bill.

The long-continuing negotiations on the bill between government and the Congress also saw government dropping a provision for one percent inter-state tax from the bill.

On Tuesday, Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the party would be in fvour of passing the bill if there are no “obstacles”.

“If there isn’t any obstacle, the GST Bill will be approved tomorrow (Wednesday),” he told reporters outside the Parliament House, but did not elaborate what the ‘obstacles’ could be.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury meanwhile said the bill that was coming on Wednesday was just to make a provision for introducing GST and they will wait for the GST bill.

He also expressed concern about the states losing their right to raise their own revenue.

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Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav meanwhile came out in support of the bill.

“I support GST but most of the people are not aware as to what will be the benefits to consumers after its enactment. Government should publicise,” Yadav said in a tweet.

The GST bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014, and was passed by the Lok Sabha around five months later on May 6. It was then referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha which submitted its report on July 22.

These amendments will need to get the nod of the Lok Sabha again, following which at least 50 per cent of the states need to ratify the bill for it to become a statute. This again could be a long-drawn process, since states will have their own issues and queries.



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