Buckling under pressure from the Opposition, the government has sent the Goods and Services Tax to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha. The panel has time till the first week of the next session to submit its report.
As a Constitution Amendment Bill, the legislation requires support of two-third of the members in both the Houses. Once passed by Parliament, the Bill will have to go to the States and more than half of 29 State assemblies will have to approve the Bill. The process is likely to take time and the government is set to miss the April 2016 deadline for its rollout.
BJP leader Bhupinder Yadav is the chairman of the panel, consisting of 21 members from Opposition treasury benches.
The committee is likely to invite all States and other stakeholders to present their views on the Bill. The Opposition is also likely to insist that the various government departments, States, industrial associations and trade unions should be heard before taking a final call on the Bill.
If the panel suggests amendments, the Government will have to accept it. In that case, the Bill will have to go again to the Lok Sabha. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the motion in the Upper House for referring the Bill to the Select Committee.
Apart from Yadav, BJP MPs Chandan Mitra and Ajay Sancheti are part of the panel.
Madhusudan Mistry, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Bhalchandra Mungekar represent the Congress party. Naresh Agrawal (SP), KC Tyagi (JD-U), Derek O’Brien (Trinamool Congress), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK), KN Balagopal (CPI-M), Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD), CM Ramesh (TDP), Praful Patel (NCP), Kanimozhi (DMK), Anil Desai (Shiv Sena), Naresh Gujral (SAD), Mohammad Fayaz (PDP), D Raja (CPI) and Rajeev Chandrasekhar are the other members of the panel.
(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 13, 2015)