The Congress hinted that it was open for a compromise with the Modi government in getting Parliament approval to the much-delayed Goods and Services Tax Bill.
However, top Congress leaders expect the Modi government to engage Opposition leaders in a meaningful dialogue over key aspects of the GST Bill, an original initiative of the UPA-II regime that seeks to unveil a uniform indirect taxes regime across the country. “There is room for compromise on the GST. It is not like the land acquisition bill on which we were not willing to compromise. We have two or three concerns that need to be addressed,” a top Congress leader said.
The Congress had raised eight objections to the GST Bill in the dissent note it had submitted to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee that examined the bill.
The Congress demands include capping the GST rate at 18 per cent, addition of more items such as tobacco, alcohol and electricity in the GST list, doing away with the additional 1 per cent tax for manufacturing states, compensation for States’ local governments, setting up of a GST Disputes Settlement Authority and enhancing the share of the states in the GST Council to 75 per cent.
Congress sources indicated that the non-negotiable issues could be narrowed down to three-four issues, including 18 per cent ceiling on GST, abolishing 1 per cent additional tax and setting up of a dispute settlement mechanism.
Though Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said he was not averse to consulting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the GST and other issues, Congress leaders claimed that no one from the government had approached them.