Congress not keen on GST Bill: Jaitley

‘If this attitude continues, we have to find alternative methods to proceed with GST’

Updated - September 02, 2016 02:45 pm IST

Published - December 17, 2015 03:50 am IST - New Delhi:

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely

The Goods and Services Tax rate will be ‘much lower than 18 per cent’ and the 1 per cent additional tax proposed to compensate manufacturing States could be done away with, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday at an event hosted jointly by all leading industry chambers to persuade Parliament to pass the Constitutional Amendment Bill to enable GST.

Mr. Jaitley said the opposition Congress’ demands to incorporate three changes in the GST Bill could be resolved, but the party did not seem to have the intention to allow the passage of the Bill to ring in a new indirect tax regime.

“The issues they have raised are eminently resolvable, provided there’s an intention to resolve them. If the intention is that India must not be allowed to grow under another government, since its growth went down under their watch, then I am afraid we will have to find alternative methods on proceeding with GST,” the Finance Minister said.

Claiming that Congress leaders, who had themselves championed the new indirect tax system to subsume all State and Central levies in the UPA regime, had for the last two sessions of Parliament told the government that the ‘mood to co-operate’ would be better for passing the GST Bill in the next session, Mr. Jaitley said now their ‘mood is changing almost by the day.’

This bodes ill for legislative action by Parliament and State Assemblies in the future, the Finance Minister warned. “Each one of us runs the risk of coming out very poorly when the history of hurting India’s parliamentary democracy is written. If by sheer noise and disturbance, session after session, Parliament is not allowed to function, this would be a precedent for all opposition parties in State legislatures as well,” Mr. Jaitley said.

The Minister also said that the principal Opposition party’s third demand about a dispute redress forum was a non-issue. “P. Chidambaram has accepted that disputes may be resolved in the GST Council and if differences persist, the Council can create a dispute redressal mechanism.”

“Over the next year, if we are able to implement GST and start the process of rationalising direct taxes in the coming budget, persist with our emphasis on infrastructure and agriculture spending and if the monsoon is normal, I don’t see any difficulty in increasing our growth by 1% to 2% from the present level of around 7.5%,” the Finance Minister said.

CII’s appeal to parties

Speaking earlier, CII president Sumit Mazumder appealed to all political parties to support the Constitutional Amendment Bill, as the major concerns of the Opposition were being taken into account in the GST legislation.

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