Hope 'good sense' prevails on Cong over GST Bill: Sitharaman

Last Updated 31 August 2015, 14:41 IST

The Centre, which was forced to back track on land bill issue, today expressed confidence that its key reform measure GST will not meet the same fate hoping "good sense" prevails on the main Opposition party Congress on the issue.

"Everybody has been taken along in the consultations. Everybody is already embedded in GST. The Empowered Committee led by K M Mani of Kerala, the Finance Minister of an Opposition government is taking discussions ahead. It has been discussed over the years," Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

Noting the GST is a bill that it is going to increase the national GDP by at least 1.5 to 2 per cent, she said that state governments have also recognised its importance.

"People are frustrated with the multiplicity of taxes and therefore here again, the Congress party is clearly seized of the importance of the GST. The merits of the GST bill are such that I am sure that Good Sense will prevail on Congress," Sitharaman said.

The Commerce Minister also made light of the reported remarks of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that good sense finally prevailed on Centre on the land bill issue.

"I am glad that the Bihar Chief Minister has recognised it. Good sense always prevails with Centre," she said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had last week said that the Constitution Amendment Bill to roll out Goods and Services Tax would soon see the light of day and the Revenue Department is getting ready with three Bills to ensure its implementation.

Describing the GST as "a monumental tax reform", he said it will benefit all segments of business, increase tax base and reduce harassment of tax payers.

Jaitley, however, did not disclose how the government will push the Bill, which is stuck in a political logjam in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.

The government is eyeing GST roll out from April 2016. Stressing that his party was not against the Goods and Services Tax Bill, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had a few days back said the support of his party, which has suggested four amendments, was vital to get it passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Spelling out the details of the amendments his party wants, he said they included fixing tax rate, compensation for nagarpalikas and panchayats and setting up of an independent dispute settlement system.

(Published 31 August 2015, 14:41 IST)

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