Finance Minister and Leader of the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley has again hit out at the Congress for stalling the proceedings in Parliament and not pushing through the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Amendment Bill.
Jaitley made a jibe about the “shrinking strength of Congress in the Rajya Sabha”.
“Congress has said even Trinity of Gods cannot make GST happen soon. God’s don’t vote in Parliament but MPs do. Shrinking strength of Congress in the Rajya Sabha can make it happen,” the Finance Minister told reporters in Delhi on Wednesday.
Jaitley suggested that the Congress would lose the numbers in the next round of bi-annual elections for the Rajya Sabha. He also said that the number of Congress nominated supporters in the House will come down.
Jaitley’s comment was an attempt to hit back at Congress’ Anand Sharma who had said that the April 1, 2016 deadline for rolling out GST would not be met “even if the trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh – descend on earth”.
Sharma had made the Trinity to comment to suggest that the government was yet to complete the preparatory work for the new indirect tax regime.
The Constitution Amendment Bill to roll out GST is stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority. The bill is being opposed by Congress although many other opposition parties are on board.
Congress wants three changes in the bill, including a constitutional cap on the GST rate.
Hitting out at the Congress, Jaitley said, “A part of obstructionism was to stop growth. Otherwise there cannot be volte face of this kind and secondly you cannot concoct those three reasons which never existed…There is a serious ideological gap between the high command and mid-command. There seems to have an ideological gap because the mid-command in the Congress always embarrassingly implemented the direction of the high command.”
“Ultimately in the Congress, party high command has its way,” Jaitley quipped.
The other two changes sought by Congress in the GST bill are removal of 1 per cent additional tax on inter-state transfer of goods and a dispute resolution panel headed by aSupreme Court judge.
So far the government has agreed to only blink on the 1 per cent additional tax issue. The other two sticking points remain.
However, Jaitley also said that most states were already on board for GST and it is possible to implement the new tax regime even in the middle of 2016.
(With inputs from PTI)