Jaitley pushes for GST Bill passage again

Urges Cong to see rationale behind uniform tax law

Jaitley pushes for GST Bill passage again
Barely a month ahead of the Budget session of Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday again pushed for the passage of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, pending since 2007.

The government and the Opposition Congress are on virtual war of words on the GST with Congress blaming the government for not being serious about its passage and the government saying the author of GST is turning against its own script. “I have reached out to them (Congress), I have spoken to them. I have explained to them and I hope they will see reason... see the rationale behind passing GST,” Jaitley said at a conclave here.

“GST is the important reform of the UPA. If I have to credit the authorship of it, I have to give credit to them. Now, If the author turns against his own script, what do I make?” the minister added.

Indirect taxes
The GST bill, India’s biggest revenue shake-up since independence, seeks to bring a number of indirect taxes into one fold, giving a 2 per cent boost to India’s $2.06 trillion economy.

The Congress, the original author of the bill, has opposed it on the ground that the latest version of the bill, now before Parliament, is flawed.

The Congress, due to its numbers in the Rajya Sabha, has been able to block the bill in the Upper House.

The BJP, too, has been trading similar charges and calling Congress’ version of the bill a flawed one.

“The government is using optics of meetings and is not serious about GST,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal recently said on behalf of the party. The Congress has been demanding three amendments: Cap on GST at less than 20 per cent, scrapping of proposed state levy and creating an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states.

“I don’t see a reason why they (Congress) should have a rethink on the bill. If there is a discussion on a particular idea in the bill, I am willing to discuss with them...certainly, we can’t bound future generations to a flawed legislation,” said Jaitley.

The minister also claimed support of all UPA allies like the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party and the Janata Dal(United). Jaitley said even the Congress-ruled states were in favour of the uniform tax regime.
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