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Cong hardens stance, GST Bill passage unlikely in Monsoon session

Cong hardens stance, GST Bill passage unlikely in Monsoon session
The GST Bill is almost certain to derailed in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament. In a sudden <g data-gr-id="44">U-turn</g> the Congress party has stepped up its opposition to it by demanding almost 10 amendments to the Bill in its existing <g data-gr-id="34">form at</g> a Rajya Sabha select committee meeting on Friday. The Congress members in the committee, on <g data-gr-id="42">Friday</g> demanded that petroleum products, alcohol, tobacco and electricity  be brought within the ambit of the GST Bill.

Looking into the landmark GST legislation, the Rajya Sabha’s select panel may endorse a majority of existing clauses in this long-pending Bill, except for the provisions about compensation to states and the composition of GST Council with a diluted Central role.

Sources said the Congress at Friday’s meeting of the Select Committee pushed for a “pure GST” with states not being given powers to impose one <g data-gr-id="32">per cent</g> additional tax over and above the GST rate.
The main Opposition party got “some support” on its stand about the role of states in the GST Council and the compensation to them, sources added.

While none of the Panel members agreed to comment on record about the discussions, sources said 12 out of 21 members of the select committee favoured lowering the Centre’s representation in the GST Council to one-fourth, from one-third provided in the Bill, which has been approved by the Lok Sabha and is pending with the Rajya Sabha.

Another proposal supported by the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party was to replace the word “may” with “shall” with regard to the payment of compensation that the Centre can give to states for loss of revenue on introduction of the single-rate Goods and Service Tax regime, sources said.
The government got support of its allies as well as some opposition parties like the TMC and the BSP on all other clauses including allowing the states to impose one <g data-gr-id="33">per cent</g> additional tax over and above the GST rate.

The Congress, sources said, may give a dissenting note on the additional tax as well as keeping petroleum products out of the GST regime in the present Bill. 

The Committee, which is vetting the constitutional <g data-gr-id="29">amendment</g> Bill, will meet again on July 17 and 20, by when a draft could be ready.

The panel, headed by <g data-gr-id="35">Bhupender</g> Yadav, has so far not decided when it will present the report to the Rajya Sabha, which opens on July 21 for the monsoon session, sources said.

The proposed GST Council will have Union Finance Minister as its Chairman and comprise two-thirds of members from states and one-third from the Centre.
M Post Bureau

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