No special sitting for GST, monsoon session to be prorogued

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) The government on Wednesday decided to prorogue the monsoon session of parliament, putting at rest speculation of a special sitting to pass the much-awaited Goods and Services Tax Bill.

“The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) which met here has decided to request the president to prorogue the monsoon session of parliament,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the media after a meeting of the union cabinet.

Blaming the Congress for the delay in the passage of the bill, he said that the government had been talking to the party over this and found that the chief opposition party was unlikely to change its stance on disrupting house proceedings.

“Initially there were indications that they will take a decision on whether to change their attitude on disrupting house proceedings, specially on the GST Bill. We tried to make them understand, but we have been told that this will continue,” said the finance minister.

The Congress which had been demanding the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh over the Lalit Modi issue and the Vyapam scams, had repeatedly disrupted both the houses of parliament in the monsoon session.

Jaitley said that the “Congress party’s anger seems to be both with the government and the people of India. Their attitude is guided by a revenge against the government as well as the people after they were reduced to 44 seats in the Lok Sabha.

“It (the Congress) has only one weapon of not letting the parliament function. Majority and numbers are against them. We tried to make them understand about the global slowdown and told them that all political parties should display elements of statesmanship.”

The finance minister said that some of the demands which the Congress is making were not even there in their original bill piloted by them. “Wisdom is lost to the Congress since they lost power,” he quipped.

“We will keep trying. We are in contact with all political parties. And nearly all parties except Congress are in favour of this bill. In Lok Sabha, except Congress, all political parties had voted in favour of the bill. Congress had walked out, they (other parties) had not walked out. If situation changes, then the cabinet will again reconsider the matter,” he added.

On doubts over GST missing the April 1, 2016 target, he said: “Your guess is as good as mine.”

The GST Bill is now likely to be brought in the Rajya Sabha during the November-December winter session of parliament. While the Lok Sabha has already passed the bill, it will have to again do so as a parliamentary committee has suggested amendments to the bill.

The monsoon session of parliament was adjourned sine die on August 13 without transacting any substantial business.

The GST is a constitution amendment bill which can be introduced in either house of parliament but has to be passed by each house by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.

The task before the government is to pass the bill in Rajya Sabha where it lacks majority.

The SP has 15 and Trinamool Congress has 12 members in Rajya Sabha, where the Congress has 68 members and the NDA 63, including the BJP’s 44. The government requires the support of at least 163 members of the 245-member house to pass a constitutional amendment bill.

The GST, Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014, which passed it on May 6, 2015. It was referred to a select committee of Rajya Sabha on May 14 this year.

The bill was introduced in the upper house on the penultimate day of the monsoon session after the select committee of presented its report.

Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST but only the centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services and imports.

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