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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

GST could be a game-changer, let bygones be bygones: Manmohan hails bill passage

Former prime minister and finance minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday hailed the passage of the GST bill, but in the same breath cautioned that there would be pitfalls in its implementation.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2017 01:42 IST
New Delhi
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh (PTI File Photo)

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday hailed the passage of Goods and Services Tax (GST) bills by Parliament and sought to play down the fact that it could not happen during his tenure, saying “let bygones be bygones”.

Observing that the new indirect tax regime could be a “game-changer”, he however cautioned that there could be “difficulties” in its implementation.

He pressed for constructive cooperation between the Centre and the states in resolving outstanding issues.

“There will be pitfalls. But we learn as we go along,” he told reporters after Parliament approved four GST-supporting legislations, moving the tax reform closer to its July 1 rollout deadline.

Asked whether he felt disappointed that it could not happen during his tenure, the former Prime Minister said, “well I think, let bygones be bygones.”

Read | Forget GST if you keep attacking Sonia, Rahul: Manmohan Singh

On whether the measure would help increase the GDP, he said, “It could be a game-changer but we should not assume that there will be no difficulties on the way. There must be a constructive spirit of cooperation between the federal government and the states to resolve the outstanding issues.”

The Rajya Sabha returned the Central GST Bill, the Integrated GST Bill, the GST (Compensation to States) Bill, and the Union Territory GST Bill by a voice vote as there was a general consensus in the house.

However, concerns were raised about as the sweeping powers of the GST council, the GST network and the GST rates.

The main opposition party, which did not press amendments, cited Manmohan Singh’s advice as the reason.

“Yesterday the former Prime Minister (Singh) advised me not the move the amendment because it will be disturb the fine consensus that has been arrived in the GST Council. It is the former PM who told me that don’t do this because it will send a wrong signal for a new federal framework,” former Union minister Jairam Ramesh said.

“In deference to what the former PM said, in spite of the former PM being at the receiving end of the jibes of his successor including rain coat and what not, I think in view of the statesman-like approach that the former PM Manmohan Singh has advised me not to move this amendment,” he added.

The ruling NDA is in a minority with only 74 seats in the 245-member House.

Ramesh said he was not moving this amendment at all in keeping with the spirit of consensus, to maintain the federal framework and to give respect to the GST council.

Later, while not moving another amendment, Ramesh reiterated that it was the former prime minister who asked him not seek amendments in the matter.

“It was Dr Manmohan Singh who advised me not to move it. I am just trying to highlight the difference between the former Prime Minister who is a statesman and the present Prime Minister who is a politician,” Ramesh said.

After the passage of the bills, finance minister Arun Jaitley went up to Congress benches and shook hands with Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad to thank them.

Deputy chairman PJ Kurien also congratulated all members of the House for the “excellent debate” on the important legislation.

Also read | Left, Right and Centre: Meet the four architects of the GST bill

First Published: Apr 07, 2017 01:06 IST

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