A consensus seems to be emerging on the long-pending reform of the Goods & Services Tax (GST), with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian meeting leaders of the Congress, the Left, the Trinamool Congress, the SP and the JD(U) on Thursday to garner support for the passage of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill in the current session of Parliament. The Congress, which had raised three demands for supporting the Bill, changed its stand following Thursday’s meeting.
The party said consultations with Mr. Jaitley were “constructive and positive,” PTI reported.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yetchury, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress Leader Anand Sharma were among those who participated in the separate rounds of discussions that Mr. Jaitley held. The news agency also said the government was in touch with AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
In anticipation, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the wording of the Constitution Amendment Bill that the State Finance Ministers had finalised on Tuesday. It also cleared the sole Congress demand — of dropping the proposed one per cent additional tax — that States had approved.
States’ stand forced Congress retreat on GST
Main opposition party Congress had no option but to come around to approving the changes to the GST Bill after States vetoed two of its three demands — of a Constitutional cap of 18 per cent and an independent dispute resolution mechanism headed by a High Court judge — on Tuesday at deliberations with Mr. Jaitley and Chief Economic Advisor Dr. Subramanian.
“The GST Bill is only meant for imposing a tax; It does not deal with Centre-State relations… So, a resolution has to be found outside the Bill and the government has to come out with an assurance,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yetchury told reporters after meeting Mr. Jaitley. He said the Left parties were waiting to see how the Centre would address this issue.