Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the goods and services tax (GST) bill was delayed for “collateral reasons” as those who could not get it passed themselves would not let others do so either, expressing regret that some people got sadistic pleasure in seeing India slowing down.
The government’s plans to roll out the new tax from April 1 next year have been jeopardised by the Opposition’s resistance to the passage of the bill in its current form. Jaitley, however, maintained that a delay was preferable over a flawed tax regime.
“I have no doubt in my mind that attempt to delay (GST) is entirely for collateral reasons. And the only collateral reason I suspect is if I couldn’t do it, then why should somebody else do it?” Jaitley said.
The minister blamed the principal Opposition party for the delay, saying politics determines policy in the country and impinges upon economic reform.
“The hard reality in India is that in a parliamentary democracy, it is politics that determines policy. And therefore the future of India and the future of Indian economy is dependent on the quality of politics we have,” Jaitley said at the annual general meeting of industry chamber Ficci.
Politics in the country should be conducive to helping the economy weather global headwinds, Jaitley said.
“Is the Indian politics going to be a support in this adverse global situation, to add the extra per cent or two to our current level of gross domestic product (GDP) or is it going to be an obstacle?” he asked.
The GST bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government does not have a majority. Jaitley indicated the bill may not go through in the current session of Parliament and the government is not keen to push legislation that it sees as flawed.
“A delayed GST is better than a flawed GST,” he said.
The government will push for the passage of three other bills critical for reform in the remaining three days of the current session. These bills include an amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, legislation to set up commercial courts and a bankruptcy code.