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Passage of GST bill could take a hit over Modi’s demonetisation move

Will the Opposition’s onslaught against the Centre over the demonetisation affect the passage of the goods and service tax (GST) bill?

india Updated: Nov 16, 2016 08:19 IST
HT Correspondent
The NDA is hoping to have the goods and services tax  (GST) bill passed during the monsoon session that begins on November 16, 2016.
The NDA is hoping to have the goods and services tax (GST) bill passed during the monsoon session that begins on November 16, 2016. (AFP File )

Will the Opposition’s onslaught against the Centre over the demonetisation affect the passage of the goods and service tax (GST) bill?

A confident government may bring the GST bill by early next week in Rajya Sabha, indicating it is not perturbed at the ongoing protests against another of its financial reforms — the demonetisation scheme.

The Centre wants to pass the GST bill to roll out the new tax regime from April 1, 2017. The proposed tax, which will absorb local levies and indirect taxes, has already missed many deadlines.

“We are getting the Constitution amended for GST on which discussions have been on since long… since Congress’ time. I am confident that we will do those amendments and pass the GST,” home minister Rajnath Singh said recently.

But for the Congress, the priority is to corner the BJP-led NDA over the demonetisation of 1,000 and 500 rupee notes. “Right now, the main issue is the surgical jumla (drama) of the demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The GST is not in our radar screen,” said Congress strategist and Rajya Sabha MP, Jairam Ramesh.

Even as the government may not require the Opposition’s support to pass the GST legislation, a united opposition might as well delay the passage of the bill through chaos and ruckus in the House. The Rajya Sabha may not get a chance to vote on the GST bill as the government is likely to introduce it as a money bill -- such bills do not require the approval of the Upper House.

“I think the GST is a forgotten issue. Let us first see if the session runs or not. Then only the possibility of GST being passed arises,” said Ramesh.

In the last session, the government managed to pass the Constitution amendment bill on the GST as the Congress and other opposition parties came on board. Now, with a hostile opposition gunning for the BJP-led government, it might be a tricky situation for pushing the GST bill.

“Thousands of ‘rich’ and ‘corrupt’ persons standing in queue. The poor are cheering from their homes! Banks are doling out cash to citizens. That is proof that ‘Achhe Din’ has arrived! Millions of working people standing in queue. Long live productivity,” former finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday tweeted, taking potshots at the government.

Also read | Oppn meets to chalk out plan to corner Modi over demonetisation in Parliament