Willing to discuss changes in GST Bill with Congress: Jaitley

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the government is prepared to discuss changes in the proposed goods and services tax (GST) Bill with the Congress but urged the latter to reconsider its suggestions that had the potential to “damage” the system.

“We are reaching out to them, we are willing to discuss with them because some of these suggestions may not necessarily be in the larger interest of the GST structure,” he said here while adressing the annual general session of industry chamber Assocham.

“The wisdom which dawned on my friends in the Congress party had not dawned on them when Pranab Mukherjee introduced the GST (in 2011). It did not dawn on them when (the then finance minister) P. Chidambaram accepted the Standing Committee recommendations,” he said.

“But to come out with the preposterous suggestion that tariff must be mentioned in the Constitution document so that in a given exigency if tariff has to be altered you need a two-third majority in both houses of Parliament and has to go to each of the states,” he added.

The finance minister said it would be “extremely unfair if we try to impose in the name of political compromise, a GST with a defective architecture”.

“And when the tariff rate has to be mentioned in the Constitution itself, it is a flawed architecture because the GST with flawed architecture can actually damage the system much more than it can benefit,” he said.

The Congress had thwarted the passage of the GST Bill in the monsoon session of parliament over its demand that a revenue-neutral rate not higher than 18 percent be mentioned in the constitution amendment bill.

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