Congress softens stand on GST Bill

Congress softens stand on GST Bill

Says differences with govt 'narrowed down'

Congress softens stand on GST Bill

Isolated on the Goods and Services Tax Bill, the Congress has admitted that differences with the Modi government on the indirect tax reform measure have “narrowed down”.

A senior leader said the Bill could be passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament beginning July 18 if the NDA government’s interlocutors reach out to the Congress to iron out the differences over the lone sticking point – capping GST rate at 18%.

The conciliatory tone of the Congress leaders came as the newly elected Left Democratic Front government made it eminently clear that it supported the GST, leaving the AIADMK the only other to oppose the GST.

“The differences between us have narrowed down,” a senior Congress leader said.
The Modi government and the Congress have reached an understanding on the abolition of additional one per cent entry tax and an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states. State governments have agreed to forego the proposed entry tax if the Centre compensated it from the national budget.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha in June, had said the government could accommodate Congress’ demand for mentioning the GST rate cap in the Constitution (122nd Amendment) or GST Bill through “skilful drafting”.

AIADMK has been opposing the GST Bill as a matter of principle, but may not be a hurdle in its passage in the Rajya Sabha.

The AIADMK has 13 members in the Upper House.
Non-Congress parties such as SP, BSP, JD(U), Trinamool Congress, DMK, BJD, TRS and NCP are expected to support the Bill.

The Left members too are expected to support the move after some posturing.
NDA’s floor managers are in touch with leaders of regional parties to ensure smooth sailing of the Bill.

Talks with the Congress are also expected to gather steam ahead of the Monsoon Session.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was ready to take forward the discussion to get the Congress on board.

Naidu had also made it clear that voting will be the last option, suggesting that the government would make efforts to get all parties along.

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