FM moves GST Bill in Lok Sabha in biggest post-1947 tax reform bid
Members of the country’s oldest political party, the Indian National Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, along with those of Trinamool Congress (TMC), Left and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) staged a walk out after their plea for referring the Constitution Amendment Bill to the Standing Committee was not accepted. The AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) also opposed its consideration but did not walk out.
The Opposition members, who alleged that the government was “bull-dozing” and bringing the bill in “hush hush” manner, wanted more time to study the “new” legislation and meanwhile finish the financial business. Jaitley assured all cooperation from government to complete the business of demands for grants of various ministries before Guillotine is applied on April 28.
After hour-long wrangling over the procedures between the ruling and the opposition sides, the Bill was taken up when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ruled that it is an important legislation on which the Finance Minister can make introductory comments and a discussion can be taken up at a later date. Commending the Bill for consideration and passage, Jaitley said, “The GST is going to lead to a win-win situation as far as the centre and the states are concerned. It is going to up India’s GDP. It is going to up India’s revenue and therefore I commend the GST Constitution Amendment Bill to the House for (consideration).”
The bill on GST, which will be the biggest tax reform after 1947, was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December last year. A single rate of GST will replace central excise, state VAT, entertainment tax, octroi, entry tax, luxury tax and purchase tax on goods and services to ensure seamless transfer of goods and services.
While liquor has been completely kept out of the GST, petroleum products like petrol and diesel will be part of the new regime from a date to be decided at a future date by the GST Council, which will have two-third of its members from states.
Seeking to assuage fears of states that they will loss out on revenues once GST is implemented, Jaitley said the Centre and states will have concurrent power to levy tax on goods and services. He noted that when the value added tax was introduced, the states had demanded compensation for more than five years.