FM bets on number game for GST win

New Delhi, March 17: The government is banking on the biennial elections to give it enough strength in the Upper House to pass a constitutional amendment that will allow it to bring in the goods and services tax (GST).

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has rejected the Congress’s demands to set a cap on the tax that can be charged as GST.

The Congress has been threatening derailment of the reform measure unless the ruling party agrees to certain changes.

 “Our tariffs are not decided by the constitutional caps,” Jaitley said today.

The Congress, which authored the original GST draft, has been demanding that a cap be set on GST at 18 per cent or 20 per cent as otherwise the tax would be too high and unbearable for ordinary citizens.

The BJP, which had not allowed the Congress to pass the measure during its term in office, has been arguing that a cap should not be written into the constitutional amendment as any changes later will have to be done by both the central and state legislatures.

“I think that’s the only glitch that remains. I would still want the Congress party to come on board. I can easily see and this is going to happen at this stage of biennial election. The numbers are significantly changing and in any case I am reasonably confident that the numbers in the Upper House are now in favour of GST,” he said.

The government has the support of 155 members in the 242-member Rajya Sabha, short of two-thirds, or 162, votes needed to approve the amendment bill.


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