GST differences ironed out, says Sitharaman


Sitharaman said the government was working on free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia, Canada and the European Union.

COIMBATORE: The differences over GST (goods and services tax) Bill have been ironed out and the government is “hopeful” of passing it during the current Parliament session, Union minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

“At this stage every difference has been ironed out and the report has been submitted by the Rajya Sabha committee. Hopefully the government should be able to pass it in the (current) session if it comes to working (mode),” she said about the bill considered as the biggest change in indirect taxation in the country.

Since the GST Bill is a constitutional amendment bill, it has to be passed with 2/3rd majority in both houses of Parliament.

Besides, half of the 29 states have to approve the legislation. The Centre is aiming to implement the GST, which would subsume most of the state levies and make the country a truly single market, from April 1, 2016.

Sitharaman said the government was working on free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia, Canada and the European Union. She added they were exploring possibility of FTAs with Eurasia and Latin American countries, especially Peru.

Sitharaman said a study group has been formed to assess trade potential in Eurasian countries. “There are a lot of discussions that are going on (for FTAs) now,” she said on the sidelines of a conference here.

She said there is immense potential for increased trade between these countries and regions. Sitharaman added the government is working to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Sitharaman said the economy was liberalized in the early 90s, but the image of India being a regulatory and control-driven economy persisted.

“We are working on removing that image. The government should be seen as a facilitator and not a regulator,” she said.

Singapore’s foreign affairs and law minister K Shanmugam, who attended the conference, said his country was negotiating to upgrade its existing CECA (comprehensive economic co-operation agreement) with India.

“We want to be a partner in India’s economic growth. We want a strategic partnership, deepen bilateral economic and people-people relations,” he said.


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