Opposition forces fresh review of GST bill

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 23, 2015 00:28 IST

The Opposition forced a Rajya Sabha panel on Friday to give in to its demand for fresh consultations with states on the goods and services tax (GST) bill, a move that may delay the government’s push to do away with overlapping state and central levies.

Leaders of the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left parties said views of all the states should be sought afresh as the NDA government has amended the original bill.

Gujarat should be asked first because it initially opposed the proposed legislation, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said when the Rajya Sabha select committee met for the first time to discuss the bill.

Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien submitted a note objecting to three amendments in the bill.

The bill could not be passed in the just-concluded budget session of Parliament as the Opposition sought further review of the amended bill, though the government held consultations with the states before bringing it in.

Now, fresh deliberations with the states could prolong the panel’s review process. It is slated to submit its report on the first day of the monsoon session.

The Centre is banking on an informal assurance from the Congress to let the bill sail through in the monsoon session.

The BJP’s biggest ally, the Shiv Sena, demanded civic bodies should also be consulted to clear doubts about their post-GST financial wealth, citing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that has a coffer of Rs 40,000 crore.

The municipalities cannot impose taxes under the proposed regime as the overarching GST will subsume all local levies. Parties feared that municipal budgets could get severely trimmed.

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