Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said on Wednesday that it is hopeful of the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in parliament in the first week of August.
Expressing that efforts to win support from all political parties are going on, the official said, “We are hopeful of passing the GST Bill in the third week of monsoon session.”
On the sidelines of a national summit on ‘Finance for Housing for All’, organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), Meghwal added that the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bengal, Bihar and other states were in favour of the GST.
It is the Congress which now remains in opposition to the bill.
The Congress, which originally piloted the GST Bill, has said it is still in favour of including a cap of 18 per cent on GST rate in the Constitution amendment bill.
The government, however, is willing to consider putting a cap in the main bill and not in the Constitution amendment bill.
There have also been efforts to reconcile with the Congress on its demands for removing the 1 per cent additional tax designed to satisfy manufacturing states, who fear losing out on the revenue, and creating a dispute redressal mechanism other than the proposed GST Council.
“While the issue of 1 per cent additional rate and redressal mechanism is more or less solved, the demand for capping the GST rate in the Constitution amendment bill is not practical,” Meghwal said.
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, who was also present at the Assocham event, said: “The government is continuously engaging itself with different parties, not only with Congress party but possibly each and every party. At the end of the day, we want to get GST passage through consensus. The biggest beneficiaries of the GST will be states.”
“The signal I am getting from all sides is positive. I hope the GST Bill will be passed during this session itself,” Naidu added.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had said that all parties are clear that the long-pending GST Bill should be “taken to a logical conclusion” in the ongoing monsoon session and the government is keen to run “extra mile” to ensure its early passage in the Rajya Sabha.
This session also happens to be first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried out the reshuffle.
The real test of Modi’s new floor managers and Kumar will be in the Rajya Sabha where there are over 40 bills pending, including the GST.
In the recent biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha in June, the BJP-led NDA strength has gone up to 74 with five additional seats coming its way, while the Congress has lost three seats and its tally has gone down to 60.
The government needs two-thirds majority in the Rajya Sabha to pass the Constitution amendment bill to roll out the GST.
To muster 163 members in the 245-member house, the government will need support of all regional players, like the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, JD-U and others to vote to make it 163.
Among regional parties, the Samajwadi Party has 19 members, AIADMK 13, Trinamool 12 and the Biju Janata Dal 8.
Nitish Kumar’s JD-U has 10, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has 3, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party 6, Communist Party of India-Marxist 8, CPI one and DMK 4.