The Centre is set to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, despite the Congress’ statement that it expects more negotiations with the NDA government and is yet to take a “final decision”.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, while making a statement on government business for the week starting August 1 in the Upper House, said the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 will be taken up for consideration and passage.
He also informed some Opposition MPs that the amended bill will be circulated for their perusal on Monday.
The Union cabinet on Wednesday amended the bill to allow states to get 100% compensation for revenue loss in the first five years under the new tax regime. Also, the additional 1% tax meant to help manufacturing states was dropped from the bill. Both changes were aimed to address the Congress’ concerns.
“We are extremely happy to note that [the] government has seen reason; [the] Cabinet has amended its GST and is willing to negotiate further. I would advise the media to wait till the negotiations and discussions are concluded,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
However, the back-and-forth between the BJP and the Congress over the bill has not gone down well with others, some of whom feel left in the dark.
“The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the Congress are playing ping-pong on the GST for too long. Parties like us have most consistent stand. As long as business with less than Rs 1.5 crore of annual turnover are kept under the state’s control, we are comfortable with the GST bill,” Trinamool’s chief spokesperson Derek O’Brien said.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury claimed he was unaware of what the government planned to do on contentious clauses of the bill.
The GST bill has been pending before Parliament since 2011 due to lack of consensus. The BJP-led NDA government has support of regional parties but requires the Congress’ backing as the 122nd Constitution (Amendment) Bill would require a two-thirds majority in each House for passage.
A resolution of the prolonged political stalemate appeared in sight on Thursday, with the government and the opposition Congress reaching a broad understanding on contentious issues.
This came after two rounds of meetings between senior Congress leaders and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. The nitty-gritty will be sorted out in the next few days, sources involved in the process told HT.
The government is keen to get the GST bill approved during the monsoon session of Parliament, ending August on 12.