The landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill is likely to be cleared in Rajya Sabha as early as next week, as the government expects regional parties such TMC and JD(U) to support the legislation.
Minister of state for finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said the Congress’ demand for capping the GST rate in constitution is “not very practical”, but the government is making a lot of effort to build consensus on the GST.
“The government is making a lot of effort to build consensus on the GST Bill. There are many chief ministers — UP, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar — they all want GST to come fast... We hope that Rajya Sabha will be able to pass the GST Bill in the next or third week of (the monsoon session of) Parliament,” Meghwal said on the sidelines of an Assocham event.
The monsoon session of Parliament began on July 18 and ends on August 12.
Information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu said the government is continuously engaging with different parties to build consensus.
“At the end of the day, we want to get the GST passage through consensus. Although we feel as of now the adequate numbers are there very much, we would like to see the House approve it unanimously,” he said.
Naidu said the biggest beneficiaries of the GST will be the states, and the chief ministers want it to be passed at the earliest.
“The signals I am getting from all sides are positive. I hope the GST Bill will be passed during this session itself,” he added.
The Congress, which originally mooted the GST in 2009 to replace all indirect taxes, has been demanding that the overall rate be capped at 18% and scrapping of an additional 1% tax designed to compensate manufacturing states that fear losing revenue.
Meghwal said when Congress drafted the GST Bill, it did not cap the GST rate in the Constitutional amendment bill and their demand now is only an afterthought. “We think we will reach a solution soon”.
The GST Bill, which intends to convert the 29 states into a single market through a new indirect tax regime, was earlier planned to be introduced from April 1 this year, but the deadline was missed as the Bill remains in a limbo in the Opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha.
The government has agreed to a five-hour debate on the GST Bill in Rajya Sabha in the current session. JDU has already expressed support for the legislation.
The bill, which will help create a single national sales tax to replace several state and central levies, has already been approved by Lok Sabha and is pending in the Upper House.