New Delhi, Aug 14 (PTI) Government today rejected the conditions put up by Congress for supporting the long-delayed GST legislation, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying these are “after-thought” and were not part of the bill that the party had itself introduced.
“I do not think it is very part of prudent politics for any party to put pre-conditions, particularly on a matter which involves a fiscal relationship between the Centre and the states,” Jaitley told reporters here.
He was replying to a question about the three pre-conditions put forth by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram for Congress party to support GST.
Indirect tax reform GST proposes to create an uniform tax rate across the country by subsuming excise, service tax and other local levies. GST is estimated to boost India’s GDP by 1-2 per cent. The Government had proposed to introduce the new regime from April 1, 2016.
Due to disruptions by Congress, the government could not get the GST Constitution Amendment Bill passed in the Monsoon session of Parliament which ended yesterday.
The government is also keeping its options open on calling a special session of Parliament to get the long-delayed GST bill passed.
Addressing press conferences in different parts of the country to ‘expose’ Congress party, senior union ministers including Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar also put the blame on the main opposition party for the delay in getting this key reform bill passed.
The ministers also maintained that the government is ‘optimistic’ about meeting the rollout target for the uniform nationwide tax regime from April next.
Talking about the pre-conditions put forth by Congress, Jaitley said the first condition of a constitutional cap of 18 per cent on GST rate was not Chidambaram’s proposal in the Bill as approved by him after the Standing Committee recommendation in 2013.
“Nor the then Finance Minister’s (Pranab Mukherjee’s) proposal, when he introduced the bill in 2011 had any 18 per cent cap. So that is clearly an after-thought,” he said.
Jaitley said the rates would be decided as per the fiscal position and economic situation, and Constitution need not be amended for that. .