Consensus eludes Rajya Sabha select committee on GST bill

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NEW DELHI: The ruling side on Friday used its numerical strength in the Rajya Sabha select committee on GST bill to reject the Congress’ demand for fixing 18% cap on GST, removing 1% inter-state entry tax and inclusion of liquor, tobacco and electricity in GST.

While the ruling side has managed to elbow out Congress demands in the panel, the fact that consensus has eluded the issues means that its members and some others belonging to Opposition parties will present dissenting notes when the final report is prepared by the panel. The party will pressing for voting on these clauses when the Constitution amendment bill, requiring two-third majority in both Houses, will be taken up for consideration and passing in Parliament.

The House panel can, however, settle the differences with a simple majority. “The real issue is not whether some of our demands have been rejected in the select committee. While the contentious issues could be settled with a 51% vote in the select committee, when it comes to the question of passing the GST bill, the government would require a two-thirds majority in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” pointed out a Congress source after Friday’s select committee meeting. “The Congress and some like-minded parties intend to pursue the contentious issues by insisting our views should be officially recorded in the final report even if it meant dissenting notes. We also intend to press for divisions on our demands when it comes to voting on the GST bill in both Houses of Parliament,” the source said. The panel on Friday considered clause-by-clause the preparation of final report. On its part, the ruling side is learnt to have managed to rally larger support within the committee on some other contentious clauses.

It agreed to accept the Congress demand for 75% representation for states in the GST council. But rejecting the above said Congress demands in the House panel, the ruling side also managed the tactical backing of some regional parties. For example, the ruling side agreed to the Trinamool Congress demand that the wording in the bill shall be changed from “may’ to “shall” in the assurance of Centre compensating the states in theevent of revenue losses due to implementation of GST.

Source: ET

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