Banking on support from regional parties for passage of the GST Bill, Government on Wednesday expressed hope that the Rajya Sabha will clear the indirect tax reform in the first week of August.
Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said the Congress’ demand for capping the GST rate in Constitution is “not very practical”, but the government is making a lot of effort to build consensus on the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“Government is making a lot of effort to build consensus on GST Bill. There are many chief ministers – UP, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar – they all want GST to come fast… We hope that Rajya Sabha will be able to pass the GST Bill in the third week of (monsoon session of) Parliament,” Meghwal said on the sidelines of an Assocham event.
The current monsoon session of Parliament began on July 18 and ends on August 12.
Meghwal said when Congress drafted the GST Bill, it did not cap the GST rate in Constitutional amendment bill and their demand now is only an after thought. “We think we will reach a solution soon”.
The Congress, which originally mooted the GST in 2009 to replace all indirect taxes, has been demanding that the overall rate be capped at 18% and scrapping of an additional 1% tax designed to compensate manufacturing states that fear losing revenue.
GST Bill, which intends to convert 29 states into a single market through a new indirect tax regime, was earlier planned to be introduced from April 1 this year, but the deadline was missed as the Bill to roll it out remains in a limbo in the opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha.
Information & Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the government is continuously engaging with different parties to build consensus on GST.
“At the end of the day we want to get the GST passage through consensus. Although we feel as of now the adequate numbers are there very much, we would like to see the House approves it unanimously,” he said.
Naidu said the biggest beneficiaries of GST will be the states, and the chief ministers want it to be passed at the earliest.
“The signals I am getting from all sides is positive. I hope the GST Bill will be passed during this session itself,” he added.
The government has agreed to a five-hour debate on the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the current session. Regional party JD(U) has already expressed support for the legislation.
The Bill, which will help create a single national sales tax to replace several state and central levies, has already been approved by the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Upper House.