Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday criticised Congress saying it is “not fair” on its part to set conditions for the passage of the > GST bill and if the said clauses were so crucial, the UPA could have brought these in the original bill when it was in power.
One condition (cap on taxes) put forth by Congress and reiterated by its vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday during an event in Mumbai was “not liked” by anybody, he said.
“Rahul Gandhi said (yesterday) the government (should) agree (with Congress’s conditions for the passage of the bill). The government has agreed. The issue is about this cap which Congress has not proposed and it had not proposed it when it brought the bill and is suddenly now making it a condition. That is not fair on its (Congress’) part,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Mr. Naidu said the party had first raised the issue during a meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“The Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) has explained the position. Subsequently, he has communicated to the Congress interlocutors...that are their leaders in Rajya Sabha about the government’s thinking and response to the proposals given by the Congress party except the one that is putting a cap which is not liked by anybody.
“If it is so important, Congress could have brought it in the original Goods and Service Taxes (GST) bill which it had introduced. Pranab Mukherjee saab was the Finance Minister at that time. (When) he brought the bill this cap was not there.
Susbsequently, Shri Chidambaramji (ex-Finance Minister P Chidambaram) was steering the GST bill...he did not think it necessary,” the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.
Now, he said, suddenly the party has said there should be a cap.
“When you want to change any proposal, you have to call a Parliament session, then you have to get it approved by two-third majority. Then you have to go to states and all... This is a very complicated thing you are creating for yourself.
“Keeping that in mind many people, learned people have said there is no need to have any cap as far as taxation percentage is concerned. Other than that, there is a broad agreement. Whatever Congress has suggested, the Finance Minister has responded to positively,” he said.
During an interaction with management students in Mumbai on Saturday, Mr. Gandhi had accused the Modi dispensation of not taking on board the concerns of the opposition on GST.
A “compromise with the government is possible on GST and it is by sitting across the table, but the government is not willing to do so,” he had said.
“The day the conditions are accepted, we will pass the GST (bill in Parliament). It will take just 15 minutes.
“We don’t want a GST where there’s no cap on taxes. We want a limitation on the maximum tax that can be charged.
Also, dispute resolution must be fair and neutral. I don’t think its wrong of us to say that,” Mr. Gandhi had said while explaining the conditions put by Congress to back GST bill.