GST Bill to be tabled in LS; BJP issues whip to its MPs

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his cabinet colleagues addressing press before the resumption of the second part of the Budget session in the Parliament in New Delhi, April 25, 2016. Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his cabinet colleagues. Photo – PTI

After the Rajya Sabha paved way for the roll-out of all-crucial Goods and Service Tax (GST), the bill is likely to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on August 8 for which the BJP has issued a whip to its members in the Lower House to ensure its smooth passage. All the amendments to the Constitutional (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Bill, 2014 were passed with complete unanimity on Wednesday.

Though the Bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, the amendments need to be ratified by the lower house.

On Friday, the ruling party asked its members to be present in the House on Monday. “GST bill will be tabled and likely taken up for voting on Monday,” a party leader said. The bill is expected to sail through the Lok Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA has a commanding majority, without much difficulty after it received bipartisan support in the Upper House.

The legislation was pending in the Parliament for over an year despite being passed by the Lok Sabha owing differences between the government and the Opposition. The amendments to the bill were unanimously passed after a marathon debate on Wednesday, barring a walkout by the AIADMK. Reasoning their stand, the AIADMK said their concerns over GST were not addressed.

Being a constitution amendment bill, the roll-out of GST Law now hinges on how quickly it is passed by the legislative assemblies. It now needs to be approved by at least 15 of India’s 29 state/UT assemblies to enable its final roll-out.

During a debate in Rajya Sabha, main opposition Congress and most other parties — Samajwadi Party, JD(U) and Trinamool Congress — expressed their support, with certain conditions, to the introduction of GST in the country as the Upper House took up the much-delayed bill to amend the Constitution for allowing the measure.

The law entailing introduction of a single indirect tax regime across the country was finally seen through after the BJP-led NDA government held hectic parleys with the Opposition parties last week.

Soon after its passage in Rajya Sabha, Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley stressed that all efforts are being made to roll out GST from April 1, 2017 – the deadline set by the Central government for itself.

Fixing the GST rate, deciding on exempt items and ensuring no dual control by the Centre and states are among the seven key challenges which have to be overcome before GST can be rolled out by April 1, 2017, according to the Union Finance Ministry.

(With inputs from the PTI)