Cong. stalling Parliament, says Jaitley

Four hours allotted next week in the Rajya Sabha to discuss the GST Bill

December 13, 2015 02:31 am | Updated November 17, 2021 05:02 am IST - New Delhi

Arun Jaitley says the government has no role in the 'National Herald' case.

Arun Jaitley says the government has no role in the 'National Herald' case.

The government has walked the extra mile to explain the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill to the Congress but the agenda of the principal opposition party, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, is to “paralyse” the country. He also stressed that the government had played no role in the National Herald case, the Enforcement Directorate “had not issued any notice” and the tax authorities had “not passed any assessment order”.

The government, he continued, would wait for the court verdict before taking any action. “If there is a tax angle, then the taxation authorities will ask questions for which there is a due process. If anyone has an issue with tax authorities, they can go in for appeal,” he said.

The Finance Minister was speaking at the Aaj Tak Forum in the national capital on Saturday.

Mr Jaitley’s statement came even as the government has allotted four hours next week in the Rajya Sabha to discuss the GST Bill, suggesting that it intends to make another bid to get this contentious piece of legislation through.

Rahul’s denial It also came on a day when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi told journalists in Guwahati that there is “no link” between the National Herald case and the GST Bill, stressing that his party was for the tax reform measure if three differences are resolved.

If the message from Mr Gandhi’s statement was ambivalent, Congress Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma on Saturday was more direct when he told The Hindu that the BJP was not interested in passing the GST bill: “They have badly failed in managing the economy and now they are linking its recovery to GST, which is not good.”

Pointing out that the government was falling behind on the GST schedule, Mr Sharma said that before it could be operationalised, the Bill will have to be ratified by the State governments, then three acts have to be passed at the Central, State and inter-state level: “They are clearly falling behind on the GST schedule. They know they cannot achieve all these linkages by March 31. So they are blaming us for delaying it. The truth is they don’t want it,” he said.

Saturday’s exchange of statements follows the high level meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence on November 28, when he invited Ms. Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss Parliament’s legislative agenda, including the GST Bill. When that meeting ended, the decision was that both should confer with their respective parties and meet again to see whether the issue could be resolved.

Since then, though there has been no formal meeting, there have been informal interactions between senior leaders.

The BJP appears to have conceded ground to the Congress on two of its three objections.

On Saturday, Mr. Jaitley said that he had offered to the Congress that the GST Council could resolve disputes and form a dispute redressal forum, as was proposed by Mr Chidambaram. To the Congress’s demand to include the GST rate in the Constitutional amendment bill, he said the tariff cannot be written into the Constitution.

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