Lok Sabha debates GST Bill approved by upper house

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) As the Lok Sabha on Monday debated the GST Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Congress accused the government of treating the lower house of parliament as a “junior partner” and ignoring its wisdom.

The opposition party said the treasury benches focused only on Rajya Sabha members during consultations for a consensus on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

“It is as if this house (Lok Sabha) does not have the brains,” Congress member M. Veerappa Moily said while initiating a debate on the GST Bill after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved it in the lower house.

The bill with amendments as passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 3.

Moily, a former union minister, said: “Democracy does not mean majority. You bulldozed our suggestion in this house when we demanded a joint committee to examine the GST. I had personally raised it,” Moily said referring to the delay in the whole process.

The GST Bill passed by the Lok Sabha way back on May 6, 2015, has again come back to the Lok Sabha with amendments made by the Rajya Sabha.

“The Congress fully supports the GST. But it is too early to call the GST Bill a game changer,” Moily said.

Moving the bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Jaitley said the amended provisions in the constitutional amendment bill for Goods and Services Tax, as passed by the Rajya Sabha, reflected near unanimity and that the new uniform tax law will lead to an “integrated market”.

“Henceforth, doing business in this country will become easier.”

He said there will be a check on leaks in the supply chain.

The minister said the Centre had addressed the concerns of all states on the GST and that the rates of taxation will be decided by the GST Council, that will be headed by Centre’s representative and include state representatives also.

He said any decision of the GST Council will be passed by three-fourths of its members, wherein the states will control two-thirds of the votes and the Centre the remaining one third.

There is an inherent mechanism for states to veto the Centre and the central government too will be able to veto the states, he explained.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the Lok Sabha when Jaitley and Congress leader Moily spoke on the bill.

Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee said his party had been supporting the GST for the last one decade and wondered why it was “stalled” for so long.

The new bill, his party believes, will help small and medium entrepreneurs, he said.

The Trinamool member also demanded that the GST Council be formed at the earliest.

–IANS

nd/tsb/vt

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