Opposition stalls GST Bill, insists on relook by panel

With several Opposition parties raising serious concerns on a number of clauses, chances of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill for introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) clearing Parliament in the current session dimmed on Tuesday.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley “beseeched” the Opposition in the Lok Sabha to “rise above partisan” considerations as they “serve no purpose” but the Congress, the AIADMK and the BJD mounted stiff resistance which could effectively stall the passage in the current session as the government does not have a majority in the Upper House — even if it manages to push the Bill through the Lower House on Wednesday.

The Opposition’s strategy in the Rajya Sabha will be to force the government to accept the referring of the Bill to a Select Committee on the ground that there are substantial changes which have not been scrutinised. In the Lok Sabha however, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Tuesday rejected such a demand.

Mr. Jaitley argued that if the GST Bill was sent back to the Standing Committee on Finance, it would delay the benefits to the States by another financial year as yet another deadline of April 1, 2016 would be “missed”. A decade of deliberations had already delayed the rollout, he said.

Still members of the Congress, the BJD, the AIADMK and the CPI(M) slammed the government for “bypassing” parliamentary standing committees .

Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance Veerappa Moily said his party, the Congress, supported the GST but was opposed to some of the Bill’s provisions and demanded that it be referred to the panel. This was supported by the AIADMK and the BJD. Mr. Moily said the government would not be doing any “charity” by agreeing to the demand.

The AIADMK’s P. Venugopal said his party opposed the Bill as it was “harmful” to producing States such as Tamil Nadu. The State, he said, would lose over Rs. 10,000 crore with the new tax regime. He demanded that petroleum products — source of 21 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s tax revenue under the present tax structure — be taken out of the proposed GST regime.


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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 12:42:02 PM |

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