Prospects of a forward movement on GST today seemed to appear in sight with the government giving some proposals to the Congress and expecting a response by Monday when Parliament meets again with just few working days left for the Winter Session to conclude.
A meeting of Congress leaders is being held on Sunday in which the party top brass will take a call on the proposals, which could pave the way for the passage of the GST bill, party sources said.
Government sources meanwhile said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already talked to Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress Deputy Leader in the House Anand Sharma in this regard.
When contacted, Sharma acknowledged that government has held informal talks with him and Azad but added that Congress is yet to get the “final proposition” and once we get it, we will deliberate on it.
He said many clauses of the bill are yet to brought to the level of an “acceptable closure” and there is “some ground to be covered”.
“We are for GST. It is still a work in progress and we need to take a fair and considered view and not to rush it through as it has far reaching impact on our taxation,” Sharma said.
Congress had last week said that its demand for inclusion of 18 per cent tax cap in the GST bill through the Constitution amendment was not non-negotiable but refused to give a timeline on its passage, saying such important legislations “cannot be rushed through”.
“We have never used the word non-negotiable. We felt there is a need for a cap. There is need for ring-fencing it and an absolute guarantee that it will not be tinkered with…,” Sharma had said.
“From what I gather, the Congress president did not use the word non-negotiable, but made it very clear that we would like to have it,” he had added.
On the issue of putting the 18 per cent cap in the Constitution amendment, Azad had said there should be “some legislative binding” on the government so that it cannot change the tax cap through an executive order. He had at the same time appeared open to some other ‘credible alternative’ to address the issue.
A committee headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian had last week had given a report backing three of the main demands of the Congress on the pending reform measure. The panel had recommended that the proposed additional one per cent tax on inter-state sales over and above the GST rate be dropped, which was one the key demands of Congress.