Amid stalemate between the Government and Opposition over the issue of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached out to the latter inviting Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh for a cup of tea. The two leaders are expected to meet the Prime Minister late on Friday evening at his 7, RCR official residence.
PM Modi’s move came after the Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley had on Thursday said that the Prime Minister is willing to speak to everyone to get the crucial legislation on GST through. On an earlier occasion, Arun Jaitley had told the press that he has spoken to “almost all Congress leaders” on the issue.
“We have absolutely no hesitation even at the level of Prime Minister. We have never had in it in the past… We don’t have it (now). He is willing to speak to everyone,” Union Finance minister had said.
Modi government needs the Parliament approval for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in the Winter session to roll-out the new indirect tax regime from planned April 1, 2016. Once it is cleared by the Parliament, the constitution amendment bill needs the assent of more than half of the state assemblies.
The taxation policy, which is high on the agenda of the incumbent BJP-led NDA government, is yet to become a reality. 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.
On its part though, Congress party has sent the signals of brokering a consensus on the crucial GST Bill if the concerns of the party are met.
The principal opposition party is seeking a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision of one percent tax by additional levy, and an independent mechanism to resolve disputes and disagreements between the state and the Centre and within the states. It is also opposed to states being given powers to levy additional 1 per cent tax on supply of goods over and above GST rate.
With the Parliament set to begin a regular business from next week, the government will be looking for headway as Ms Gandhi and former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh meets Prime Minister Modi this evening. Both the Houses are holding special discussion on the Constitution marking 125th anniversary of the Dr. BR Ambedkar, the iconoclast and the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee.
(With inputs from the PTI)