GST Bill’s future still uncertain in Parliament’s monsoon session

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NEW DELHI: The possibility of the goods and services tax (GST) GST bill, being passed in the monsoon session got weaker on Friday with main opposition party Congress coming up with a new twist to the on-going issue, that indicated that it will try to block the passing of the Bill, that needs a two thirds majority in the House, as it entails a constitutional amendment.

At the Select Committee meeting for GST on Friday Congress members ask for amendments to existing bill being looked into by the committee, in a change of script that can come in the way of passing it in the House. For the first time, Congress members said that the party was in favour of bringing all commodities including alchohol, tobacco and even electricity within the GST sphere, when states had wanted these to remain outside of the perview of GST. Interestingly, the GST bill, being looked into by the Select committee for fine-tuning, was mostly drafted by the earlier Congress-led UPA regime. But, now when Congress seems to be in a mood to take on the Narendra Modi government, following Lalitgate and other issues, it is unlikely to oblige the government by allowing bills to be passed.

Interestingly, some of the other opposition parties which are in government in some of the states and are not opposed to the GST bill, feel that, by saying that there should be just one single tax system in the country and all commodities should be part of it, Congress members deliberately trying to scuttle the move for the bill to be passed in the monsoon session coming up later this month.

It has been decided in Friday’s meeting that the amendments that Congress members are asking for will be put to vote in the Select committee itself and since most other parties are in favour of GST, Congress will get defeated in the committee.

But trouble lies ahead when the same amendments are put to vote in Rajya Sabha, where the government is still fairly away from the majority mark and Congress has a considerable strength to come in the way of a two-thirds majority. Also, with the Bihar elections coming up and a new Janata Parivar having been formed with SP, JD(U) and RJD, to fight BJP together, these parties are unlikely to go with the government on the GST bill this season, even if it beneficial for states ruled by them. In that scenario, the fate of the Bill hangs in balance as far as the monsoon session is concerned.

Source: Times of India

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