The Lok Sabha debated on Monday the GST bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha last week for ushering in the landmark goods and services tax (GST). Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in the Lower House.
The implementation of the GST will reduce tax evasion and improve ease of doing business by engendering a common market throughout the country, finance minister Arun Jaitley said as he moved the modified bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha, which passed the bill in May 2015, took it up again to approve of the modifications made in it by the Rajya Sabha. The government had moved six official amendments, including scrapping of 1% additional tax. The bill is expected to sail through the Lower House.
Highlights of Modi’s speech
* It is our democracy and maturity of political leaders in India that we have been able to do this (pass GST bill) in one voice.
* We need IT preparedness, legal and consumer preparedness.
* In natural course, there will be cross-checking. It will be easier to detect tax evasion.
* Most of the things that can impact consumer inflation have been kept out of the ambit of the GST.
* The cost of tax collection will come down, the money can be used for the welfare of the poor.
* GST will curb corruption and black money.
* We speak a lot about corruption but we also need to build a strong anti-corruption system.
* Tension between the Centre and states is generally over natural resources or share of funds.
* When someone says, 65% people are poor, we know we inherited this legacy.
* Economic and educational empowerment of the poor is what we are focusing on, so that we can mitigate poverty.
* All essential goods used by poor people are kept out of GST net.
* It is true that under GST, manufacturing states may lose revenue. But there are provisions to compensate them.
* GST will act as a catalyst to help strengthen the trust between Centre and states.
* Under GST, backward states are guaranteed to earn more revenue.
* States in our country are not self-sufficient, but interdependent. GST will boost the economy of underdeveloped states.
* Consumer and small businesses will gain tremendously. Small business will feel more secure with this. Small businesses are our strength.
* With GST, we intend to bring in uniformity in taxes. The message is clear that the ‘consumer is the king’.
* Rashtraneeti (national policy) is bigger than rajneeti (politics).
* Had met both Sonia ji and Manmohan ji. One is a Lok Sabha MP and other a Rajya Sabha MP. We have always tried to discuss this with everyone. Question of treating the Lok Sabha as junior house does not arise.
*A trust between the Centre and states developed. This was not about a parliamentary majority. This is about consensus.
* Lot of flaws have been overcome as far as the GST is concerned.
* Having been a CM, now it became easier for me to address issues that CMs could have faced with the GST.
Great Step by Team India, Great Step towards Transformation, Great Steps towards Transparency, this is GST: PM @narendramodi in Lok Sabha— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 8, 2016
* Today, an important move to free the nation from tax terrorism has begun.
* I thank all political parties for their cooperation in passing GST bill.
* This can’t be seen as a victory of a party or government, it is a win for the democratic ethos of India and a victory for everyone.
* This example is good enough to understand the ups and downs nation has seen with respect to tax situation.
Today is 8th August. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, the Quit India movement began: PM @narendramodi in the Lok Sabha— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 8, 2016
“GST will ensure one tax in the entire country. It will result in seamless transfer of goods and services in the country...This is a major indirect tax reform which will in long run will be in interest of the country,” Jaitley said, adding the Centre has addressed concerns of all the states.
On the vexed question of the rate, Jaitley said it will be decided by the GST Council, which will comprise representatives of the Centre and states.
“States and the Centre will be pooling in their sovereignty together and creating a new mechanism which will take all its decision within that pooled sovereignty,” he said, commenting on the issue of states giving up sovereign power to levy taxes.
“It is an important legislation and divided Parliament passing the country would not benefit the country,” Jaitley said as he appreciated parties for showing unanimity in passing the bill in the Upper House.
The minister further said the new tax regime will “check leakages, increase tax base for Centre and states, eliminate cascading effect of tax on tax, reduce tax evasion and improve ease of doing business”.
But the Congress accused the government of treating the Lower House as a “junior partner” and ignoring its wisdom.
The opposition party said the treasury benches focused only on Rajya Sabha members during consultations for a consensus on the GST bill.
“It is as if this house (Lok Sabha) does not have the brains,” Congress member M Veerappa Moily said, initiating a debate Jaitley moved the bill.
Moily, a former Union minister, said: “Democracy does not mean majority. You bulldozed our suggestion in this house when we demanded a joint committee to examine the GST. I had personally raised it.”
“The Congress fully supports the GST. But it is too early to call the GST bill a game changer,” Moily said.
(With agency inputs)