PM Narendra Modi discussed the GST Bill at an all-party meeting ahead of the upcoming Parliament session.
- PM appeals to all parties to help pass GST Bill in Rajya Sabha
- Key tax reform has been stalled in Parliament for years
- Government has held several talks with Congress in hopes of a consensus
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday appealed to the Opposition to help pass the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament that starts tomorrow.
“GST is of national importance. Issue is not which government gets credit. Important Bills, including GST will be taken up in the monsoon session and I hope for meaningful discussions and outcomes,” he said in an all-party meeting called by the government.
“All of us represent both the people and parties and let’s keep national interests above everything else,” he added.
The Prime Minister’s pitch followed several talks between his BJP-led Central government and its main rival, the Congress party to settle differences over tax reform legislation stalled in parliament for years.
“There is a lack of trust between the states and the Centre. How can you proceed in this context?” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said today.
His colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “We want a concrete draft proposal from the government on GST. If we know how they plan to address the three contentious issues, we can revert.” The next meeting between the government and the Congress is expected to take place on Tuesday.
The proposed reform, India’s biggest revenue shake-up since independence in 1947, seeks to replace a slew of central taxes and levies in 29 states, transforming the nation of 1.2 billion people into a customs union.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said yesterday the government was trying to resolve differences with the Congress party, which include its demands to cap the tax rate at around 18 per cent in the proposed bill.
The government has said it does not want to be bound to a particular rate written into the law as any future changes would require a further amendment of the constitution.
The other Opposition parties have also demanded they be consulted and are unanimous that a solemn assurance be given in some form that will not allow the tax burden to increase beyond 18 per cent.