India’s biggest tax reform, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday afternoon.
The bill – which will bring in a uniform tax – was passed by the Lok Sabha last year, but remained stuck in the Upper House as the opposition raised issues over several of its provisions.
The bill went back to the drawing board and amendments were made, changes that have now found approval among most in the opposition.
The revised GST bill, if passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, will then go back to the Lok Sabha for fresh approval.
The government hopes to wrap up discussions and pass the bill on Wednesday itself.
Below are the live updates:
9.10pm: India’s biggest tax reform measure, GST Bill passed in Rajya Sabha
9.01pm: The government needs to assure us that this GST bill will be a finance bill, not a money bill: GN Azad
9pm: Amendments on GST Bill being put to vote in Rajya Sabha
8.50pm: He (Aurn Jaitley) left one thing unsaid. It is a unanimous demand of this House that the CGST and IGST Bill are brought before us as a financial bill and not as a money bill,” says P Chidambaram
8.45pm: AIADMK walks out of Rajya Sabha during discussion on GST Bill
8.40pm: State law itself can give a devolution in favor of local municipalities so solution within framework of #GST is workable, says Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha.
8.22pm: System will be more efficent, more compliant, avoidance more difficult because you’ll be detected at some stage. From raw material stage to transfer of goods, right to the point it’s sold, at some stage it is possible to check evasion. Once this is possible system more efficient: Arun Jaitley
8.20pm: There will also be no cascading effect of tax on tax, Arun Jaitley.
8.15pm: System will be more efficient, more compliant, avoidance more difficult because you’ll be detected at some stage: Arun Jaitley on GST.
8.10pm: I think to implement the GST is a headache but to be a former finance minister is a luxury, says finance minister Arun Jaitley
6.55pm: “We are yet to understand what the future would be. We are going to enter into an unknown terrain. We are not clear about what the consequences would be,” CPI’s D Raja said in the Rajya Sabha.
6.45pm: GST Bill is the brainchild of Manmohan Singh, says Shiva Sena MP Anil Desai.
6.30pm: PM Modi should apologise to the nation for his U-turn on GST Bill: Congress in Rajya Sabha
“When the Congress had brought this Bill to the Parliament, then BJP had protested against it,” said Narendra Budania, Congress MP from Rajasthan.
6:06pm: We want constitutional guarantee, clarity on mode of payment of compensation for states’ revenue losses, says TDP’s GM Rao
5:54pm: P Bhattacharya of Congress’ West Bengal unit says GST bill doesn’t clarify how common people will be protected
5:46pm: Exclusive 22%, an appropriate GST rate according to NIPFP, but ultimately a political call, says Govinda Rao
5:30pm: Surendra Singh Nagar of Samajwadi Party says this bill will affect common man.
5:26pm: This (GST bill) will help in ease of doing business and consumers will be benefitted, says Ajay Sancheti
5:20pm: Ajay Sancheti of Maharashtra BJP says India will become a strong market after passing of GST bill
5:05pm: GST is a truly transformational reform, says Rajeev Chandrashekhar, independent MP from Karnataka
4:55pm: I urge to bring GST as finance bill and not as a money bill, says Praful Patel
4:54pm: GST step in right direction,must be taken to logical conclusion.Transition will be challenging, says Praful Patel
4:52pm: We must address the issue of the poorer states, says NCP’s Praful Patel.
4:25pm: BJD’s AU Singh Deo says mineral-rich states should be allowed to implement Green Tax
4:12pm: All Bills related to GST should not be brought as a money bill, must be debated in Rajya Sabha, says Sitaram Yechury
4:05pm: Are we going to reduce the states to come to Centre with begging bowls to ask for money, asks CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury
3:59pm: I request you to not bring this bill as a money bill, says Sharad Yadav
3:57pm: JD(U) was always in favour of GST, says Sharad Yadav
3:53pm: JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav speaks on the bill, says I stand in support of it
3:50pm: My appeal to the BJP and Congress is to bring in this GST bill
3:42pm: Derek O’Brien accuses Congress of ‘Go Slow Tactics’
3:40pm: Jaitley has changed his stand on GST based on where he sits, says Derek o’ Brien.
3:35pm: Trinamool Congress’ Derek o’Brien says GST can also be called ‘Girgit Samjhauta Tax’.
3:26pm: AIADMK MP from Tamil Nadu A Navaneethakrishnana calls GST bill ‘unconstitutional’, says it violates federal structure
3:20pm: Samajwadi Party will support the GST bill, says Naresh Agarwal
2:55pm: There should be a uniform tax structure, says Bhupender Yadav
2:49pm: BJP’s Bhupender Yadav is speaking on GST bill
2:47pm: When this bill is passed today, we will prepare for the next stage of the debate. The next stage is the central GST bill. I want an assurance from the fin min that when that bill is brought, it will be brought as a financial bill and not as a money bill.
2:46pm: The worry that we have, including my government, is creeping taxation
2:45pm: I, on behalf of my party, loudly and clearly demand that the standard rate of GST should not exceed 18%, says Chidambaram
2:42pm: The standard rate of GST should not exceed 18%, says Chidambaram
2:40pm: I ask all of you do you agree or disagree with me- the rate should be changed only after the approval of Parliament
2:38pm: GST is supposed to be a more efficient tax. Because it is non-cascading, more people will comply with it.
2:35pm: We need to keep the taxes low. At the same time, we must protect the revenues of the state governments.
2:34pm: In high income countries, the average GST rate is 16%, in emerging market economies like India it is 14.1%.
2:32pm: The heart of this bill is what will the tax be. It is not a matter between union finance minister and state finance ministers. There is a third line to it- that is the people of the country.
2:28pm: Just as the govt is zealous of its executive power, we in parliament are zealous of guiding our legislature power, the judges of this country are jealous of guiding their judiciary power
2:26pm: GST doesn’t stand only for Goods and Services Tax, it also stands for Good Sense Triumphs
2:25pm: What is the rationale of a GST? The rationale of GST is you should avoid multiplicity of taxes
2:23pm: Chidambaram says there are four major issues in the bill, including clumsy drafting. When we found there were too many flaws in the GST bill that could be fixed, we decided we could not support it
2:21pm: Congress party was never opposed to the idea of GST, says Chidambaram
2:20pm: I hope the FM will pass the bill not on the strength of numbers but on the strength of arguments
2:18pm: Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram is speaking, says I welcome the friendly and concillatory tone of the Honourable Finance Minister’s speech
2:17pm: I commend the honourable bill to the house for discussion
2:15pm: It will ensure there is no tax on tax. It would certainly give a boost as far as economy is concerned which is now at a critical stage.
2:14pm: GST will convert India into one economic market with one uniform tax rate
2:11pm: I am extremely grateful to all the political parties whose members are present here, CMs of almost all states, empowered committed of state finance ministers that we have been able to receive a major consensus building
2:10pm: There has been a large consensus building which has taken place.
2:08pm: Many economists and analysts belive this will give a boost as far as growth is concerned
2:05pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduces GST Bill for discussion, says it is the most reformative tax reform
If all goes smoothly, the government hopes to implement the bill from April 1, 2017, the start of the next fiscal year. However, the target looks ambitious. Experts say the earliest the GST bill can kick in is July 2017.
On Tuesday, the government circulated nine amendments meant to address the concerns raised by the Congress — a more robust grievance redressal mechanism, scrapping of 1% additional tax and mandatory compensation to states for revenue loss under the new tax regime.
A standing mechanism to resolve disputes was also a key demand of the main opposition party.
The concept for a nationwide uniform tax was first introduced by the UPA by then finance minister, P Chidambaram, in his 2007 budget speech.
The central government introduced the constitution amendment bill on GST in the 2011 budget session, but failed to build a consensus. The bill lapsed at the end of the last Lok Sabha.
The NDA government picked up the issue again, working for the past two years to reach out to the Opposition parties, especially the Congress.