Congress should allow GST passage for accelerating growth: Govt


Venkaiah Naidu says govt wants an extended monsoon session so that the Constitutional amendment bill can be approved.

New Delhi: Racing against time to ensure passage of the goods and services tax (GST) bill in Parliament, the government on Saturday said it wants an extended monsoon session so that the Constitutional amendment bill can be approved and appealed to Congress to support the key reform to accelerate the country’s growth.

“Government’s proposal for having extended Monsoon Session is still on. We want to convene the extended session. GST Bill is important for the country’s economy. We have accepted most of the suggestions. I appeal to Congress to help pass the bill and not make it a political issue,” parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters at a press conference in New Delhi.

Amid frequent speculation about the government toying with the idea of calling a joint session, the union minister made it clear that since the GST is a Constitutional Amendment Bill, it requires endorsement of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and cannot be done in a joint session.

“We cannot call a Joint Session for it. I appeal to the main opposition party to see reason. The GST bill has been discussed in detail for last many years and examined by finance ministers of four opposition parties so far.

“The issues raised by the states—both manufacturing and non-manufacturing, have also been addressed to their satisfaction. Now Congress must accept the bill to accelerate the economy of the country,” Naidu said.

The parliamentary affairs minister, who has met a number of opposition party leaders in last fortnight including Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, had earlier said that the government was looking forward to passage of the GST Bill “at the earliest” and has an “open mind” on amendments to this key reform measure.

Government plans to roll out the measure from April next year. Though the dates for calling the extended monsoon session are yet to be decided, there was indication that the government wanted to do it this month. Keen to ensure passage of the GST bill, government had kept open the option of reconvening the session with the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs deciding not to recommend immediate prorogation of the Houses after they were adjourned sine die on 13 July.

GST, which has been called the biggest tax reform post-Independence by the government, proposes to create a uniform tax rate across the country by subsuming excise, service tax and other local levies. The Constitution Amendment Bill on GST is still awaiting the nod of Rajya Sabha, which could hardly transact any business in the recently concluded monsoon session due to uproar over Lalitgate and Vyapam scam.


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