MUMBAI: The Congress party is isolated on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) issue and the government is confident of generating enough political support to get the country’s biggest indirect tax reform passed in the Rajya Sabha soon, said Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for roads, highways and shipping.
“I feel that in GST, the other important political parties in the Rajya Sabha are now ready to support it. I am confident that with the support of these regional political parties, we will succeed (in passing) this bill,” Gadkari told an exclusive gathering at the ET Markets’ pre-budget meet in Mumbai on Friday. The event was attended by some of the country’s top fund managers, strategists and brokers in the biggest gathering of people related to the financial markets this year. The minister hoped that the Congress will see sense on the measure.
GST, one of the most important items on the Narendra Modi government’s policy agenda, has been hanging fire for the past year due to opposition by the Congress and the Left in the Upper House.
Since GST entails a constitutional amendment, both Houses have to approve the legislation with a two-thirds majority. The ruling National Democratic Alliance is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha.
Gadkari said the government’s priorities will be rural infrastructure and agriculture along with increased infrastructure spending in areas such as such as roads and railways.
He said his ministry has asked the finance ministry to allocateRs 65,000 crore, is higher than the current year’s budget of Rs 45,000 crore. Finance minister Arun Jaitley will present the budget on February 29.
Regarding agriculture, Gadkari said the priority will be to improve and vastly expand irrigation facilities, provide electricity round-the-clock to farmers and give a big push to agro processing facilties and centres to increase value addition to agricultural produce. irrigation problem are two key priorities.
Gadkari said his ministry has successfully settled the issue of stalled road projects in the country with Rs 3.5 lakh crore worth of projects getting released, compared with a backlog of Rs 3.8 lakh crore, when the government took charge in May 2014.
“Now we will see the results,” Gadkari said. “We have already started work on it. Probably we will get good results starting from March.”