The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is confident of passage of the long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill during the monsoon session of parliament, beginning on Monday, as there was no “rigid attitude from any side”, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said.
In an interview with IANS, Naqvi hoped that the session will be productive.
He expressed the hope that the opposition Congress would have understood that delay in the passage of GST bill, pending in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority, was causing loss to the states.
“Definitely, there is concern in the country over the GST bill because it has been pending in Rajya Sabha for a long time.
“All parties want that the bills linked to the country’s development are passed. It is a small session and every minute every hour is important. We are confident that all parties will take decisions on important issues with one voice,” Naqvi said.
The monsoon session of parliament will conclude on August 12.
Naqvi said the government wants passage of bills through communication and coordination.
Asked about the outcome of the meeting that finance minister Arun Jaitley and parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar had with leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma on July 15 on the GST bill, Naqvi said there had been formal and informal communication over the issue.
“The impact of talks appears positive. I hope it stays positive on the floor of the house,” he said, adding the he was “very much confident” of the bill getting passed in the monsoon session.
The Congress demands on the bill include capping GST rate at 18% and mentioning this in the Constitution amendment Bill. It also wants deletion of the provision which allows imposition of one percent tax by additional levy and also an independent dispute resolution mechanism.
Asked about the government response to the Congress demands, Naqvi said that “there is no rigid attitude on any side”.
“The main thing is it should come in the house for debate and there should be a decision. When there will be debate and discussion, a lot of things will get cleared, several confusions will end. Every big issue can be sorted out through debate.
“I do not think the Congress is against development of the country. Because for the time it (GST bill) remained pending, it sent a wrong message. The states were to benefit from GST and they could not do so. I feel the Congress would have understood this and its attitude will be positive,” he said.
Naqvi said the Congress could convey its reservations on the bill during the debate and the government reply.
“Whatever it will be, the government will say on the floor of the house,” he said, adding that any assurances will be given on the floor of the house.
Asked about apprehensions that benefits of the bill will be realised over a period of time, Naqvi said the government will “process it fast”.
The bill envisions a pan-India GST to thoroughly overhaul India’s indirect tax regime. It was first mooted by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime and has been already passed by the Lok Sabha.
The states will draft their own State GST (SGST) bill based on the draft model law with minor variations, incorporating state-specific exemptions.
The Centre and the states will also have to approve the integrated GST law or iGST, which will deal with inter-state movement of goods.
The Constitution amendment bill needs to be ratified by more than half of the states.
Naqvi also hoped that the Monsoon Session of parliament will be smooth and discussions will be held in a positive atmosphere.
He said the government was prepared to discuss all issues raised by opposition parties.