Govt hopeful as Congress hints at GST passage

Govt hopeful as Congress hints at GST passage

Govt hopeful as Congress hints at GST passage

After week-long acrimony over the “National Herald” issue, the Modi government and the opposition Congress on Friday dropped hints for the possibility of reaching an understanding on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to meet Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma on Monday with the government’s response to the three key demands raised by the main opposition on the indirect tax reform measure.

Ironing out differences

Despite the standoff in Parliament and outside over the National Herald issue, Jaitley has held meetings with Azad and Sharma to iron out differences over Congress demands to scrap one per cent additional tax, setting up of a dispute settlement mechanism and capping the GST rate at 18 per cent.

It is learnt that Jaitley had conveyed to the Congress leaders the findings of the Committee headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on the GST.

Scrapping of one per cent additional tax and limiting revenue neutral rate below 18 per cent were among the recommendations made by the Subramanian Committee.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who had set the red lines outlined by the Congress, said the Congress was yet to receive any official copy of the revised formulations from the government on the GST Bill.

“Once we receive it, we will think with an open mind and hopefully the bill will be passed,” he said. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, speaking in Guwahati, signalled support for the GST. He said an impression was being given that the Congress was not interested in the GST. Rahul said the party had raised three issues and wanted the government to address them.

Sharma also said the Congress had never used the word “non-negotiable” while listing out concerns over the GST.

“We have never used the word non-negotiable. We felt there is a need for a cap. There are need to ring-fence it and an absolute guarantee that it will not be tinkered with,” Sharma had said.

In Rajya Sabha

There were reports that the GST Bill could be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, but the same could not be confirmed independently.

Both, the government and the opposition are under pressure from various stakeholders to implement the GST regime soon as it is expected to add two per cent to the Gross Domestic Produce.
DH News Service

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