Government optimistic on GST target, blames Congress for roadblocks


Piyush Goyal today said the government is ‘optimistic’ about meeting the rollout target for the uniform nationwide tax regime.

AHMEDABAD/CHENNAI: Hinting at a special session to get the long-delayed GST bill passed, senior union ministers including Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman today said the government is ‘optimistic’ about meeting the rollout target for the uniform nationwide tax regime from April next.

The ministers, while addressing press conferences in different parts of the country, also put the blame on Congress for the delay in getting this key reform bill passed.

Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal said the government will work out alternatives to implement the GST and accused the Congress of “insulting the people of the country” by disrupting the legislative business in the just-concluded Parliament session where GST bill was stalled.

“There are less possibilities of implementing Goods and Service Tax (GST) law by April 2016, but the government will work out alternative ways to ensure people get its benefits,” Goyal said in response to a specific query if the government can implement it by the April 1, 2016 deadline.

“We will hope that the Congress will realise the futility of stalling reforms like GST and will come on board,” he said, but refrained from spelling out the ‘alternatives’ and said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will “think over it and come out with an alternative at an appropriate time”.

He ruled out Ordinance route for GST, saying constitutional amendments cannot be implemented by Ordinances.

Goyal, who was in Ahmedabad as part of BJP’s strategy to ‘expose’ the Congress all over the country for stalling Parliament, said, “The Congress has not only insulted Parliament, but also the people of this country.”

Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she is ‘very optimistic’ about getting the GST and other key bills passed in Parliament despite Congress’ disruptions.

The government would seek to work with other parties in this regard, she told reporters in Chennai.

Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters in Lucknow that the GST Bill will “definitely” be passed and claimed the government enjoys “majority” in Rajya Sabha as well on getting this bill passed.

Hinting at a special session for passage of GST, Javadekar said, “”As you know this session has been adjourned sine die, but not prorogued.”

On whether the government would be able to meet the April 1, 2016 deadline for implementing the Goods and Services Tax Act, Sitharaman said, “Yes, ideally we will stick to the deadline.”

“Let us see. Obviously I cannot lay the entire blueprint in front of you now, we wish to work together with everybody to have that passed,” she added.

Sitharaman was speaking on the sidelines of a party initiative to reach out to people to explain to them about what happened during the recently concluded Monsoon session of Parliament.

Congress on its part remained non-committal on the issue of support to the GST bill amid talk of a special session of Parliament being convened for enacting the key reform measure.

“We have read it in newspapers only. Courtesy demands, democracy demands that opposition should be taken into confidence if government has any such plans. When it is officially announced, we will take a call,” leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters in the national capital.


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