The Centre is now preparing for a major push for the Bill on the Good and Services Tax (GST). The Modi government is expected to list the Bill in the first week of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The government will try to isolate the Congress on the issue. Regional outfits like the Trinamul Congress, BSP and even the Left have shown their inclination to support the GST, whose passage will be the government’s priority in the Monsoon Session.
The Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha, is pending in the Upper House where it was introduced in August last year when the government did not have the numbers on its side to get it cleared. The Monsoon Session of Parliament is commencing from July 18 and will conclude on August 12.
The main opposition to the Bill is coming from the Congress, which has been demanding some changes, including mentioning a GST rate cap in the Constitution. Though Tamil Nadu had been opposing the bill, after AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, speculation is rife that the AIADMK might soften its stand.
Though the government has indicated that it is willing to drop a plan to introduce a 1 per cent tax on inter-state transactions, it cannot mention the GST rate in the Bill as it would require the government to move Constitutional Amend-ment Bills whenever there is a change in rate.
Ahead of the Monsoon Session, the government will hold an all party meeting with another one chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on July 17.
The Government’s agenda for the Session including the GST Bill will be deliberated with the Opposition in these meetings. NDA floor leaders are also likely to meet either on July 16 or 17 to chart their strategies.
“The GST Bill is on top of our priority list for this Session. Government has been holding consultations with various political parties on this issue and we are very hopeful that this important bill, which will help in cutting cost for doing business and help in bringing in a unified tax regime in the country, will be passed by consensus,” said minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
During the last Budget Session of Parliament, the government couldn’t not list the Bill in the business list because of lack of consensus and also because the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress were engaged in a war of words over the AgustaWestland helicopter scam.