GST Select Panel endorses changes; Congress dissents

RSTV Bureau

Arun-Jaitley-The government has criticised the Congress for giving a dissent note in the Select Committee on Goods and Services Tax. Government said that it hopes the Opposition will reconsider its “irresponsible” decision.

This came after Rajya Sabha’s Select Committee on GST submitted its report before the House. The committee accepted almost all of the 21 clauses in the GST Constitution Amendment Bill.

However, the report is marked by dissent notes from Congress, AIADMK and Left parties, which are opposed to the GST Constitution Amendment Bill in the existing form.

Congress has filed dissent on eight provisions, including composition of the GST Council. AIADMK in its dissent note demanded that petroleum should be kept out of GST and the representation of the states in the GST Council be reduced to one-fourth from one-third. The Left parties raised concerns about the dominant role of the Centre in the Council.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government will go ahead with the GST legislation in Parliament that seeks to create a simplified tax structure across the country which is “revolutionary”.

He said the government will try and build a consensus on the legislation and explain the rationale and reasoning to various parties including Congress.

“It is hardly a dissent note on the bill; it is a dissent against the Congress party’s own proposals which were originally given. Congress MPs are giving a dissent against the suggestions made by their own Chief Ministers,” Jaitley explained.

According to Jaitley, Congress’ dissent note is against the wish of traders who are demanding that GST be implemented. He accused the Congress of being against the country’s progress.

“I hope that the Congress party will reconsider its irresponsible decision,” Jaitley said while dissing the Congress. Jaitley elaborated that he has never seen a political party which opposes its own legislation and gives a dissent note against suggestions given by its own Chief Ministers and state governments.

When asked if the government was hopeful of getting the bill passed, the Finance Minister said, “I am hopeful and therefore, we are going to go ahead with the GST legislation. We will still try and build consensus and explain the rationale and reasoning as far as Congress is concerned.”

In the Budget session of Parliament earlier this year, the Constitutional Amendment Bill for GST was passed by the lower house with a two-thirds majority. It was subsequently sent to the select committee of Rajya Sabha. As it is a Constitution Amendment Bill, it has to be approved by two-third majority in the Rajya Sabha as well.

(With inputs from PTI)