Jaitley ‘confident’ of GST passage in monsoon session

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said he was “reasonably confident” of the passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill in the monsoon session of parliament.

“I am reasonably confident because every political party, excluding the Congress party, favours the GST,” Jaitley said in a press interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) here.

Jaitley had earlier stated that if the Congress does not agree to support the GST, the government may seek its passage by vote in the parliament’s next session.

Asked if the government will manage enough numbers in the Rajya Sabha to favour the GST, Jaitley said all regional parties that are allies of the Congress are supportive of GST.

“Each one of the UPA partners, from the DMK to the NCP, is making strong noises in support. If you take the broad headcount, I am reasonably confident that when it comes to the crunch, it will be difficult for the Congress to take a contrarian view,” Jaitley said.

“All regional parties, except AIADMK…We can speak to them…have a strong interest in the Bill,” he added.

Jaitley said he has spoken to all the chief ministers and even Congress-ruled states are supporting the GST, which seeks to simplify indirect taxation system by clubbing different taxes.

The finance minister also said that barring the 1 percent additional tax proposed on inter-state sales, the bill is the same as had been introduced by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“Except for the 1 percent additional tax that was done to mollify the manufacturing states, that I have already said we are open about….The rest of the GST bill is verbatum — the same, what the UPA had introduced. And therefore one has to analyse these afterthoughts,” he said.

“In fact, Congress should have had the vision to support the bill because then they could have claimed the original authorship of the idea,” he added.

The GST Bill that has long been delayed stands approved by the parliamentary standing committee. The Rajya Sabha select committee has approved the bill, barring the 1 percent additional tax.

“We will ask Rajya Sabha to discuss it and then take a view on it,” Jaitley said.

–IANS

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