GST and pending bills… Govt gets down to business

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the media on the opening day of the winter session of  Parliament, in New Delhi, November 26, 2015. Union Parliamentary affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh are also seen.  Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the media on the opening day of a Parliament session, New Delhi. Photo – PTI

With the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) chalking the schedule of the Parliament’s Monsoon session, the Modi government’s task is cut out for the 20-day crucial session. While the talking point during the top ministerial meet was facilitating the passage of economic reform legislation – the GST Bill – government is also readying itself for a debate over issue like the NSG meeting and other important bills, which are still pending in both the house.

In the meeting, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told her colleagues that she was ready for a discussion on the recent foreign visits of the Prime Minister in view of issues like India’s membership to NSG, if members want it.

Off late, Congress and other opposition parties had criticised the Centre and PM Modi over India not getting its way in the NSG.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who chaired the meet, pushed for early passage of Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill while Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said there was a need for an early passage of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill. Both are pending in Parliament.

On the issue of Goods and Service Tax Bill (GST), dubbed as a landmark economic reform, which his yet to be passed by the Upper House, government was hopeful of getting the backing of several opposition parties.

“We have a wider support and we have enough numbers for GST but we would like to have all parties on board because it will have an effect on states,” Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu told the press briefing on the CCPA.

FILE: File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh at his official residence in New Delhi. Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley and Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu also seen.  Photo - PTI

FILE: File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh at his official residence in New Delhi. Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley and Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu also seen.
Photo – PTI

Naidu emphasised that the government wants to get the bill passed by consensus and is making efforts in that direction but asserted that even if consensus is not there, “we must get it approved in this session”.

“We will continue to have a dialogue with them also and try to convince them that House should be in order, which is a must to pass a constitutional amendment bill… That is my hope as Parliamentary Affairs Minister… I hope it should get approved in the next session of Parliament,” he said.

He, however, said that voting on the bill will be the last option, suggesting that the government would like to avoid any trial of strength on this issue and will strive to take all parties along.

On the issue of efforts to bring Congress on board, who is opposing the GST Bill, Naidu said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is ready to hold further discussions with all parties including Congress. He also referred to the recent interview of the Prime Minister in which he sought the cooperation of Opposition parties for passing GST.

Besides the GST, the government will push for passage of three bills replacing ordinances on Combined Entrance Exam for medical and dental colleges — NEET — as well as the one seeking amendments to the Enemy Property Act.

56 bills are pending — 11 in Lok Sabha and 45 in Rajya Sabha, including Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, Consumer Protection Bill 2015 and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015. The session may see ministries coming up with at least 25 new bills.

After the CCPA, Naidu also held a separate meeting with Union ministers during which he asked them to submit their bill proposals by July 3. The Monsoon session begins on July 18 and will go on till August 12.

(With inputs from the PTI)