Any bill of amend the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. Congress leaders said it would press for voting on all these eight clauses when the GST bill is taken up.
The passage of the constitution amendment bill for rolling out GST has become uncertain this session with the Congress giving a note of dissent to the Rajya Sabha select committee, which has finalised and adopted a report and is expected to table it this week.
The eight-point note of dissent given by Congress members in the panel —Madhusudan Mistry, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Bhalchandra Mungekar — says the party will not support the bill unless it incorporates the amendments the party proposes.
“We are in favour of a Goods and Services Tax that is simple and comprehensive. The Constitution (122nd) Amendment Bill 2015 is neither. It is pitted with compromises, exclusions and exceptions that make it impossible for us to extend our support to the Bill in the absence of the amendments we have proposed being incorporated in the Bill,” the note said.
The Congress wants an 18-per-cent ceiling specified so that “in the pursuit of higher revenues the GST Council desists from crossing the ceiling”. It said 18 per cent was a “reasonable, moderate and adequately revenue-generating GST rate”. Secondly, the Congress wants scrapping of the proposal to levy an additional one per cent tax.
The note says the proposal was “market distorting”, especially in view of the fact that “we have proposed 100 per cent compensation for a minimum of five years to states that might lose revenues. The party wants the compensation to be deposited in a fund under the administrative control of the GST Council.
The Congress also wants inclusion of “tobacco and tobacco products, alcohol for human consumption and electricity supply and consumption”. “We propose that all three be included in Clause 12 of the Constitution Amendment Bill with the condition that the GST Council take a decision for their inclusion in GST within a period of five years,” the note said.
The Congress said it “cannot support a GST Council that is unduly weighted in favour of the Centre in the interest of true cooperative federalism; the share of the states in voting in the GST Council must be enhanced to 75 per cent and share of centre brought down to 25 per cent”.
The Congress also said the absence of a GST disputes settlement authority was a lacuna, sought that sources of revenue of the panchayats and municipalities be safeguarded and assured of their due revenue buoyancy expected to arise from GST, and suggested changes in the word “supply/ies”, which it calls a key term.
Any bill of amend the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. Congress leaders said it would press for voting on all these eight clauses when the bill is taken up.