Centre, Cong narrow down differences on GST Bill

Centre, Cong narrow down differences on GST Bill

Centre, Cong narrow down differences on GST Bill

­With the GST Bill set to come up before the Rajya Sabha next week, the ice-breaking between the Narendra Modi government and Congress has opened a new chapter.

It took several rounds of deliberations for the government to narrow down its differences with the Congress on the Bill’s provisions.

An easier decision, perhaps, was giving in to the Congress’ demand to abolish the provision of 1% entry tax, which would have helped the manufacturing states generate additional revenue.

However, that came at a cost — with the Centre agreeing to compensate the states for the losses for five years after the GST came into force.

On the sticking issues of capping the GST rate at 18% and mentioning it in the Constitution amendment bill, the government and the Congress realised that it was not feasible.

The key negotiators from the Congress were Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and
P Chidambaram, while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did the heavy-lifting for the government with able assistance from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.

The demand of the state governments, voiced at the meeting of the empowered committee of state finance ministers, for a higher GST rate — between 23% and 28% — also came in handy for the Centre to make the Congress agree to leave the job to the GST
Council.

The decision by the Congress and the government interlocutors to keep the meetings discreet also helped them avoid the media glare and focus on the issues at hand.

It is learnt that the Constitution (122nd Amendment) or GST Bill would have the changes cleared by the Cabinet — scrapping 1% entry tax and compensating the states fully for the losses incurred due to GST for five years.

CPM Politbureau discusses GST

The CPM Politbureau on Saturday discussed its strategy on the GST Bill in the wake of the consensus emerging among political parties, including the Congress, DHNS reports rom New Delhi.  There are differences within the party over the bill as the Kerala government also seems to be positive about it. The Politbureau, which began its two-day meeting on Saturday, is also discussing attacks of Gaurakshaks on Dalits and the minorities. The party considers the phenomena as the new face of “fascism”. On GST, the party has taken the stand that unless states do not get an assurance that their right to raise resources would not be curbed, the bill is not in their interest. Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury has stated that the bill is against federalism. The party was expecting the Congress to block the GST Bill. It also expected that regional parties would also ultimately oppose it. But, the Congress is moving towards supporting it after some modifications and most of the regional parties are also likely to come in support of the bill.

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