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GST bill to be tabled in RS today as Cong steps up pressure

The government will bring on Tuesday the much-awaited Goods and Services Tax, GST, bill in the Rajya Sabha even as doubts persists if the main opposition Congress will allow its passage.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2015 11:24 IST
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the opposition does not want to let the monsoon session of Parliament run. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the opposition does not want to let the monsoon session of Parliament run. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

The government has listed the Goods and Services Tax bill, that seeks to replace all indirect taxes with a uniform levy, for consideration and passing in Tuesday's business in Rajya Sabha even as doubts persists if the main Opposition Congress will allow its passage.

The Revised List of Business of Rajya Sabha said finance minister Arun Jaitley will move the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-second Amendment) Bill, 2014, incorporating recommendations made by a House Select Committee.

The GST bill has already been approved by Lok Sabha and was referred to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee in the last session. The panel has given its report endorsing majority of the provisions, while suggesting changes to compensate the states fully for five years for any revenue loss for the GST rollout and definition of supply for the purpose of states levying additional 1% tax.

Indirect tax reform GST proposes to create a uniform tax rate across the country by subsuming excise, service tax and other local levies. If implemented GST bill can boost India's GDP by 1-2%.

Read | No-win situation: Between govt and GST, a Congress wall

It is now awaiting a nod of Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority, and as a constitutional amendment bill, GST needs the support of two-thirds of the House. With the Congress repeatedly disrupting proceedings in Parliament and only three days before the monsoon session ends, the government is desperate to see it pass muster.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also issued a whip to all its Rajya Sabha members to be present in the House on Tuesday.

While some regional parties in the opposition - the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal(United) and the Biju Janata Dal - are in favour of the bill, the Congress, the Left and the AIADMK had submitted dissent notes on the report of the committee which was tabled in Parliament last month.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently met Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and sought her support assuring her that there will be amendments to make the bill acceptable to her party, which has at least 10 lawmakers in the Upper House.

But on Monday, the government saw a light in the tunnel with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav telling the Congress, whose protests in the past two weeks have led to a near washout of the session, in Lok Sabha that his party wants the House to function and will not back it if it continues to be adamant.

At a meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Yadav told Congress leaders to spell out their demand and end the matter through debate.

The ruling BJP accused the Congress of adopting a "hit and run policy" by not allowing the government to speak on the allegations it was raising in the House, while finance minister Jaitley blamed the opposition party's top two leaders for the impasse.

"The government observes that on the pretext of Sushma Swaraj, the real motive of the Congress is that they don't want the GST Bill to be passed. They want India's growth to suffer," he told reporters outside Parliament. "Except the Congress, all the opposition parties want that the House should function. Even most of the Congress leaders are against disruption in Parliament but their two top leaders want to stall the House."

The Congress has been demanding the resignations of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly aiding controversial former IPL chief Lalit Modi, and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam admission and recruitment scam.


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