Government unbending on GST: Chidambaram

New Delhi, Jan 1 (IANS) Former finance minister P. Chidambaram on Friday accused the BJP-led central government of being “stubborn and unbending” on GST bill, adding Congress did not receive a written response over its concerns on the legislation.

The senior Congress leader told media here that his party had objected to the Goods and Services Tax bill on “well-reasoned grounds”.

“Many important legislations remain stalled in Parliament. The Congress and some other parties had objected to some provisions of the GST bill on weighty and well-reasoned grounds,” he said.

The bill could not be passed in the winter session of parliament amid continuous tussle between the government and the opposition. The bill is stuck in Rajya Sabha where the government does not have a majority.

The Congress demands on the GST bill include a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision for one percent tax by additional levy and an independent dispute resolution mechanism.

Party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, who also interacted with the media, said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch had “red-flagged” the GST and “the government was only finding excuses to blame the Congress.

Chidambaram said the government was outright dismissive, until the chief economic adviser “virtually endorsed” two of the three principal objections of the Congress on GST bill and made no recommendation on the third.

“Yet, the government has not been able to find a way to accommodate the views of the Opposition and pass the GST Bill. I am afraid the government has only to blame itself and its stubborn and unbending attitude,” he said.

Answering a query, Chidambaram said Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh gave their “precise objections” on the bill during their meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said the government was to get back to the Congress but “(after) almost a month now we have not received a written response or a revised formulation.”

Answering a query, Chidambaram said GST bill was “flawed”.

“Much better we delay than pass a flawed bill,” he said.

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