The government is consulting with the opposition to discuss extra sittings of Parliament to pass the GST or Goods and Services Tax Bill.
After failing to push the GST bill in the monsoon session of Parliament, the government is now linking its biggest reform measure to the need to firm up India’s economy amid a global crisis.
Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu met Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, this morning, to discuss extending the monsoon session.
To pass the GST Bill, the government may consider a second part of the session, which ended on August 13 after days of protests and chaos over Congress demands for the removal of BJP leaders accused of corruption.
The GST proposal creates a national sales tax to replace a complicated network of central and state levies that inflates costs. Supporters say GST will add up to two percentage points to economic growth and boost domestic trade while creating a unified national market.
The GST was passed in May by the Lok Sabha, where the government has a huge majority. But it has been stalled in the Rajya Sabha, where the government and its allies are in a minority.
Delays in the passage of the GST Bill will make it tougher for the government to meet a self-imposed deadline of next April for its launch.
The Congress, which initiated the GST Bill in 2006, was non-committal on its support to the Bill today.
“Unless we see what the amended clauses are…unless we see the final bill, we cannot comment,” Mallikarjun Kharge said.
The monsoon session has not been prorogued, which means that it can be resumed. However, that means trouble for the Land Bill Ordinance, which can’t be reissued unless the session ends. Politically, this may help the government as it is reluctant to bring in any ordinance labelled anti-farmer before the Bihar election. The land ordinance will lapse on August 31.