National

Govt. reaches out to Cong. on GST Bill

The government needed to "ring fence" the GST rate so as not to burden the common man, says Congress leader Anand Sharma.

Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament beginning next week, the government has reached out to the Congress for passage of the long-pending GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have a majority.

New Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has already held telephonic talks with Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad and deputy leader of the Congress in the House Anand Sharma and formal talks are likely to take place shortly.

When contacted, Mr. Sharma made a strong pitch for evolving a “genuine” common market through the key tax reform, insisting that the GST should be both “meaningful and substantive.”

Ring-fencing

The government, he said, needed to “ring fence” the GST rate so as not to burden the common man.

The GST, which is being touted as the most significant reform in indirect tax since Independence, is being held up in the Rajya Sabha because of stiff opposition by the Congress, which, among other things, is demanding a constitutional cap on the GST rate.

Author of the Bill

Dismissing suggestions that the Congress was against the Bill, Mr. Sharma said the party was the author of the Bill and its only concern was that it should be “meaningful and substantive.”

Mr. Sharma said the Congress also wanted clarification from the government on taxability of various goods like petroleum, alcohol, tobacco and electricity.

Besides, the government needed to clarify whether the GST would subsume various cesses including the Swachch Bharat cess.

The government plans to push the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha for rollout of GST in the monsoon session beginning July 18. The Bill was approved by the Lok Sabha earlier.

“There has to be firm ring-fencing of the GST cap. It is for the government to give proposals to address the issue,” Mr. Sharma said, adding “the ball is in their court.”

He said the Congress leadership would take a “considered view.” — PTI

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:09:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Govt.-reaches-out-to-Cong.-on-GST-Bill/article14483652.ece

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