GST discussion: Opposition walks out of Lok Sabha

NEW DELHI: The long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was on Friday moved in the Lok Sabha for consideration amid stiff resistance by several opposition parties, even as finance minister Arun Jaitley said it is a “win-win” measure and states have nothing to fear.

Commending the bill for consideration and passage, finance minister Arun Jaitley said: “GST is going to lead to a win-win situation as far as the Centre and the states are concerned. It is going to up India’s GDP. It is going to up India’s revenue and therefore I commend GST Constitution Amendment Bill to the House for (consideration)”.

Seeking to assuage fears of states that they will loss out on revenues once GST is implemented, he said the Centre and the states will have concurrent power to levy tax on goods and services.

“The government is trying to bulldoze Parliament. We will oppose the GST bill with all the might that we have,” Congress MP Deepender Singh Hooda said.

Hooda also said that Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government had opposed the introduction of the GST bill.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the GST bill should be sent to Parliament’s standing committee as there have been many amendments to the original bill.

Members of Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, along with those of TMC, Left and NCP staged a walk out after their plea for referring the constitution amendment bill to the standing committee was not accepted. AIADMK and BJD also opposed its consideration but did not walk out.

The government proposes to roll out the GST, a new indirect tax regime which will subsume various levies including sales tax, excise, service tax, from April 1, 2016.

Once the Constitution Amendment bill is approved by Parliament by two-third majority, it will have to be ratified by half of the states.

The bill on the GST was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December last.

The Centre has been working towards addressing concerns of all states for rolling out the GST on the scheduled date.

Certain states have argued that the implementation of GST would be beneficial for consuming states, while for their manufacturing counterparts like Maharashtra and Gujarat it could be a challenge.

The Centre and the states have been working on a new revenue neutral rate, which is currently pegged at 27 per cent. RNR is the one at which there will be no revenue loss to the states after GST implementation.

The recalculation of RNR is necessary as at present it does not take into account the taxation of petroleum products as also the 1 per cent additional tax which states can levy as part of the GST Bill.

A single rate GST will replace central excise, state VAT, entertainment tax, octroi, entry tax, luxury tax and purchase tax on goods and services to ensure seamless transfer and end of “inspector raj” as well as “tax on tax,” he had said.

Source The Times of India

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