'We must pass GST come what may in July,' says FM Jaitley - Alternative Media Forum


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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

'We must pass GST come what may in July,' says FM Jaitley

New Delhi(PTI): Hitting out at opposition for dragging its feet on the GST Bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said "nobody should get a thrill by delaying GST" as the proposed indirect tax reform would improve revenue and growth.

He also said "we must pass it come what may in July".

The GST Bill, which was approved by the Lok Sabha, could not pass muster in the Rajya Sabha and was referred to the select committee for scrutiny.

"If it (GST) is going to create India into a one unified market and (promote) free flow of goods and services, facilitate free trade, going to improve revenues of the states, going to improve revenues of Centre, going to improve India's GDP, then nobody should get a thrill in delaying GST," the Finance Minister said.

GST, which seeks to subsume indirect taxes like services tax, excise and local levies, "is a national agenda, he said, adding that "therefore we must pass it come what may in July".

The government proposes to roll out the GST from April 1, 2016.

The select committee is scheduled to submit its report to the Rajya Sabha on the first week of the monsoon likely to begin sometime in July.

"Thereafter, the House can approve what is suggested. It takes only half a day to the reach the other house. That is not a time consuming process," he said.

"GST is not a political agenda," he said, adding the bill should have really been passed in this session as it had been scrutinised by the Standing Committee on Finance and most of the recommendations have been taken on board.

The government has introduced only one additional clause of one per cent additional tax up to a maximum of 2 years to address the concerns of the manufacturing states to "maintain a balance between Parliamentary wisdom and consensus with states."

"And for some reasons the principal opposition, the Congress party took a view that it needs one more committee. Surprisingly because it was their own bill and it has been improved upon by a standing committee," Jaitley said.

Besides, he said, Congress' own chief ministers are privy to the empowerd committee which has approved it.

"We were able to muster a large support in the Lok Sabha. Even in the Rajya Sabha as far as the members are considered, I don't think the Congress party has sufficient numbers...But then they started resorting to other tactics like not allowing House to proceed and so on," Jaitley said.

Hoping that the select committee will act with prudence, he said "the next challenge is that we simultaneously have to do two exercises-- one is to keep the three other bills in readiness but those bills have to be approved and the only timeline we have for those bills is either monsoon session or winter session".

The three Bill are Central GST Bill (CGST), State GST (SGST), and Integrated GST (IGST).

The constitutional amendment after July will then have to go to states immediately because more than 50% of states have to ratify, he said.

"So first we must have the Rajya Sabha approving it in July. Then, we must have at least 50 per cent of the states approving it in their monsoon session and then both in monsoon and winter session we must have CGST, SGST, IGST - the three laws being cleared," he said.

And parallely the IT backbone has to be ready, he added.

On GST rate of 27% he said, it cannot be speculated but it has to be reasonable.

"When somebody suggested extraordinary high rate after alcohol and petroleum product have been kept out, that obviously has to come down. GST has to be reasonably affordable rate taxation," he said.

Asked if government would explore the ordinance route for proposed land acquisition law, Jaitley said government will decide on that.

"It is only political stand (of opposition) not an economic stand. This Land Acquisition Bill is in favour of rural and farmers ... It has been referred to a joint committee."

Now the joint committee will give its recommendations, he said, adding, "I don't think that there will be any difficultly in passing in the Lok Sabha. Thereafter, it will go to Rajya Sabha. After it goes to Rajya Sabha, I hope that committee recommendation will be accepted by all political parties."

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