Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the government is hopeful of passing the much-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in the second half of the budget session, which will resume on April 20. The GST bill, which has got the approval of the Lok Sabha, is yet to be passed in the Rajya Sabha.
The Centre is also hopeful of passing the bankruptcy code bill, which will deal with sick companies that turn insolvent for genuine reasons.
“The current session of Parliament has seen one landmark legislation two days ago…and I do hope to see another two being passed in the second part of the session with regard to the bankruptcy and insolvency laws and GST,” Jaitley said at the ‘Advancing Asia, Investing for the Future’ conference organised by the finance ministry and the International Monetary Fund.
Last week, Parliament approved the Aadhaar Bill, which provides statutory backing to the unique identification number, and will help in the management of subsidies and benefits. The real estate bill has also been approved by the Rajya Sabha.
“We are trying to have special emphasis now both in terms of legislative changes and resources being put to strengthen the banking system…I do feel that next few months, in bringing about structural change, are going to be extremely important,” Jaitley said.
The government has already said that it is ready with the required infrastructure for the roll out of the GST bill.
The bill was introduced in the Upper House in the monsoon session last year but due to stiff opposition, primarily from the Congress, it could not passed.
Speaking at the same session, IMF MD Christine Lagarde said the Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to deal with state-run banks’ huge non-performing assets (NPAs) — loans that do not yield returns — are steps in the right direction. “The (move of) Reserve Bank of India governor (Dr Raghuram Rajan) addressing bank balance sheets is absolutely right.”
She added: “We consider that the fiscal stance adopted by India is exactly appropriate and a very sensible objective that has been set. It’s just the right one that has been set under the given circumstances.”
Meanwhile, amid a raging row over loan defaults by Vijay Mallya, minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha said “full force of the law” is being applied to bring all wilful defaulters to justice. “We have some people that are wilful defaulters, that have genuinely engaged in illegal activity. As far as those are concerned, the full force of the law is being applied. All investigative agencies are working in that regard to ensure that they have to be brought to justice,” Sinha told reporters on the sidelines, without making any direct reference to Mallya.