Ahead of the long-delayed GST Bill being taken up by Rajya Sabha, the government has circulated to MPs the amendments it has proposed in the Constitution Amendment Bill to enable implementation of the tax.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha the amendments to the Bill, pending in the Upper House for last one year, were given to the Secretariat of the House two days ago and have been circulated to the members.
He was responding to concerns raised by some members including Naresh Agarwal of SP who said they have not received copies of the bill or the amendment.
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, that would lay the ground for roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, subsuming all indirect taxes including central excise duty and state VAT/sales tax, is listed for consideration and passing in the Upper House tomorrow.
The legislation was approved by the Lok Sabha in May last year and introduced in Rajya Sabha in August last year where it has been pending because of opposition from the Congress party over certain provisions.
The Cabinet, Agarwal said, had approved amendments to the Bill and the same should be given to members for them to go through before the debate tomorrow.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the Bill was circulated to members in August last year before its introduction in the Upper House. That as per rules and procedures is okay, he said.
“However, if you need one more copy, (Rajya Sabha) Secretariat will circulate it,” he said adding if there are amendments proposed by the government to that Bill they have to be circulated to members one day before the debate.
Jaitley said the amendments have been circulated as well.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the amendments have been received in electronic form and a printed copy may be given to members, while Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said printed copies of the amendments to the Bill were received at residence this morning.
“I have been informed by the Secretariat that the amendments have been circulated,” Kurien said adding the Bill can be re-circulated for the benefit of new members and those who have not read it.
A constitution amendment requires support of two-third of members present and voting. The amendment will then have to be approved by 50 per cent of all the state assemblies.
The government is likely to move four amendments to the GST Bill that was passed by Lok Sabha and which has been pending in Rajya Sabha since August last year. These include one on scrapping of the proposed tax of up to one per cent on inter-state transactions to compensate manufacturing states and another one promising to compensate states for any revenue loss in first five years of GST implementation.
The other amendments pertains to a new formulation on a dispute-resolution mechanism and an endorsement of the resolution by the empowered committee of state finance ministers on a revenue-neutral rate to bring down the incidence of tax on the common man while protecting revenues of states.
Congress originally mooted GST in 2006 and a constitution amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in March 2011 but it lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
The amendment was passed by Lok Sabha in May last year but got stuck in Rajya Sabha as the Congress made several demands, including a cap on GST rate in the statute, abolition of 1 per cent inter-state tax to favour manufacturing states and a legislated dispute-resolution mechanism.