Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said he was “reasonably hopeful” that the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill would be passed by the Rajya Sabha, Indian parliament’s upper house, in the next session, and that all supporting legislations required will be in place by the year-end.
“I intend bringing up the Constitution Amendment Bill for consideration in the Upper House in the very next session of parliament, which starts next month, and I am reasonably hopeful of this being passed,” he said, addressing the India Investment Promotion Seminar here, adding that members in the Rajya Sabha are “overwhelmingly in favour of GST.”
“Now, on the assumption that the GST will be passed in the monsoon session (starting in July) of parliament, then by the end of the year those draft legislations are ready and the GST Council has to approve it,” he said.
“After the constitution amendment is approved, there are three legislations that are required to be passed, two by the central government and one by state assemblies.”
The constitution amendment bill needs to be ratified by more than half the states of the Indian republic.
The finance minister explained that the overall GST rate, which would vary for different goods, would be set by a newly constituted GST Council.
“Under the GST Bill, the rate of tax is to be decided by GST Council. The council comprises of states and central government,” he said.
“I think in the long run, GST rates will moderate further. At what rate, the GST Council will start it, I don’t know.”
“There have been recommendations which have been made by expert committees, including the one that Ministry of Finance had set up. I’m sure we will try to keep rates as moderate as possible,” he added.
The bill for a pan-India GST to thoroughly overhaul India’s indirect tax regime has been passed by the Lok Sabha, Indian parliament’s lower house, but is stalled in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) currently lacks a majority.
Jaitley is here on the second leg of his six-day visit to Japan aimed at attracting investments from the country to India.