GST, land acquisition laws needed to remove poverty: Jaitley

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Reacting to a grim picture of rural India projected by the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the passage of bills on Goods and Service Tax (GST) and land acquisition is necessary to create jobs and remove poverty.

As per the latest official data released on Friday, for nearly 75 percent of the 17.9 crore (nearly 180 million) households in rural India, the monthly income of the highest-earning member is less than Rs.5,000 ($83), and 40 percent households are landless, its members toiling as manual casual labourers.

“Improving this situation is the number one priority of this government,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post titled “Message of the Socio-Economic and Caste Census”.

“The government is creating the conditions for greater private investment: implementing the GST and creating a common market, reforming the land law, easing the costs of doing business and unblocking stalled projects are all measures that will improve the conditions for investment,” the finance minister said.

“Passing the GST and reforming the land law will accelerate this investment turnaround,” he added.

While the GST Bill is currently being reviewed by a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, the Land Acquisition Bill has been referred the joint committee of parliament.

The GST is seen as the key to facilitating industrial growth and improving the country’s business climate. By subsuming most indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments such as excise duty, service tax, Value Added Tax and sales tax, the new regime proposes to facilitate a common market across the country, leading to economies of scale and reducing inflation through an efficient supply chain.

The passage of the bill and finally for it to become a law is a lengthy process.

Being a constitutional amendment bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha, it needs to be passed by the Rajya Sabha with a two-thirds majority and then ratified by at least 15 state legislatures before it is sent for the President’s assent.

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