Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed hope that the all-important Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be rolled out next year. The taxation policy, which is high on the agenda of the incumbent BJP-led NDA government, is yet to become a reality. The legislation on the GST is still to be cleared by the Parliament where Modi government facing a stiff opposition against the Bill.
“We have introduced GST bill in Parliament and hope to roll it out in 2016,” the Prime Minister said Tuesday addressing Indian and German business leaders at the Indo-German Summit in Bengaluru.
Sharing the dais with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a three-day visit to India, Prime Minister Modi lent assurance to the foreign investors of favourable business conditions, reasserting that India is a “bright spot” amid global economic slowdown.
Even as the Prime Minister wooed the global investors, his government at home is confronting few challenges getting the crucial legislations like the GST Bill through. Though the Bill has already been approved by the Lok Sabha, it is pending in the Rajya Sabha — the Upper House of the Parliament — where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.
The Monsoon session of the Parliament also witnessed government’s unsuccessful attempts to table the GST Bill in the Upper House as it faced a massive opposition protest over the twin issue of Lalit Modi controversy and a major admission and recruitment ‘Vyapam’ scam in Madhya Pradesh, a BJP-ruled state. The issues led to an impasse between Modi government and the Congress party-led opposition, with the latter demanding resignation of Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan CM Vasundhra Raje and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The session concluded in a washout, setting freeze on the passage of the Bill. Till at least the next Parliamentary session – Winter session. With Prime Minister Modi now assuring the GST by “next year”, the possibility of advancing the Winter session may not be ruled out. Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu had earlier opined about the possibility of calling an early Winter session, given the Opposition was willing.
Amid the issues surrounding the GST legislation, the principal opposition Congress party, which enjoys maximum number of members in Rajya Sabha, and the Left parties had flagged certain provisions when the Bill was examined by the House panel. The Opposition has all along been claiming that they are not against the Bill but only wants their suggestions to be taken on-board.
However, the Bill may take some more time even after if it is passed by the Parliament. Being a Constitutional Amendment Bill, not less than one-half of the state legislatures too needs to approve the GST Bill to bring it as a replacement for all indirect taxes.
(With inputs from the PTI)