The government hopes that the biennial elections in the Rajya Sabha will give it enough seats in the upper house of parliament to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday.
“Numbers are going to significantly change in the Rajya Sabha with the biennial elections. Every political party in parliament, barring one, has told me it will support GST,” Jaitley said, fielding questions at the annual India Today Conclave.
The GST Bill has been approved by the Lok Sabha and is currently stalled in the upper house, where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lacks a majority.
Referring to the Congress party, that is opposing the bill in its current form, Jaitley said the party has an “issue on constitutional capping” of GST tariffs. He also said that that it would be difficult to accept the opposition Congress party’s demand to cap goods and services tax (GST) rate in a constitution amendment bill stuck in parliament.
“Our tariffs are not decided by constitutional caps,” the finance minister said, adding that such a move would limit the scope of making future changes.
“Today state governments tell me they are all in favour of GST. Even Karnataka, which has a Congress government, wants the GST,” he added.
The proposed sales tax, India’s biggest revenue shake-up since independence in 1947, seeks to replace a slew of federal and state levies, transforming the nation of 1.2 billion people into a customs union.
The Congress party, the original author of the tax reform, has opposed the bill, calling it “flawed”. It wants Jaitley to cap the rate of GST at less than 20 %.