In what may be speculated as no sign of thaw between the ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress over the issue of Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley termed the latter’s stand on the tax legislation as “preposterous”. The constitutional amendment bill, passed in Lok Sabha is still to be tabled in Rajya Sabha owing to the opposing on the part of Congress party.
“Three new propositions are now raised (by Congress) including a preposterous one that tariff must be mentioned in Constitution of India,” Arun Jaitley said.
“So every time there is a drought, flood and you need to increase the tax rate, you have to first go to all states in India to change the tax rate. This is something which is just not possible,” he added.
Congress is seeking a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent and a deletion of the provision of 1 per cent additional tax. They also want an independent mechanism to resolve disputes and disagreements between the state and the Centre and within the states — three sticking points over the passage of GST, which has led to a political logjam.
Speaking at a discussion-based event in Davos, Switzerland organised by a Delhi-based TV news channel, the Union Finance minister further questioned Congress party asking why the “concept of cap didn’t strike either of your two finance ministers when your government was in power”.
Arun Jaitely, however, emphasised during the discussion that GST is “certainly going to come”.
“GST is certainly going to come. I have already conveyed to Congress leaders that I am willing to go to the states for the one per cent thing. I have privately conveyed that and I have no hesitation in admitting that publicly,” the Union Finance minister told the audience.
On the other hand, senior leader of the Congress party Kamal Nath, who was also present at the event, strongly justified his party’s three demands for the passage of GST Bill.
Nath stressed that the concept of GST would be defied if one per cent additional tax is imposed. “If we have a bill, we must have a good bill,” Nath added.
The freeze between BJP and the Congress, however, remains over the issue even after the meeting between the top leadership of the two parties.
Last year in November, PM Modi had invited Sonia Gandhi and former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh at his residence to seek the principal opposition party’s support over the legislation. That was followed by Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu calling upon the Congress party president again in the midst of Winter session of Parliament.
(With inputs from the PTI)