Better if GST Bill was passed in this session: PM Modi

Ending Friday, the second leg of Budget session will be another one for the incumbent BJP-led NDA government where they were not able to get through the GST Bill — crucial legislation aimed at economic reform. And none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself expressed concerns over the same.

Speaking to bid farewell to 53 retiring members of the Upper House, he stressed that the biggest indirect tax reform measure since independence, which will benefit the states in a big way, is still waiting for the approval from Rajya Sabha.

“While important reform measures were passed, it would have been better if two critical decisions had also been approved,” PM Modi said referring to GST Bill and Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

“Bihar would benefit from GST, Uttar Pradesh would benefit from GST. Barring one or two states, all states would have benefited from GST,” he added.

GST Bill continues to remain bone of contention between the ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress party. It has already been passed by the Lok Sabha but is pending in Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.

Once it is approved by the Rajya Sabha, the legislation needs to be approved by half of the 29 states so as to roll out GST possibly by October 1, another deadline after government missed April 1, 2016.

Another crucial legislation which the government was hoping to reach its logical conclusion is a CAMPA, aimed to establish the national compensatory afforestation fund to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as way of compensating forest land diverted to non-forest uses.

“States would have got Rs 42,000 crore if we had decided on the legislation,” the Prime Minister said, adding each state would have got Rs 2000-3000 crore.

“We will have to wait for 4-5 months now,” he said, ruing that the move beneficial to states has been left out.

(With inputs from the PTI)