Finance minister Arun Jaitley will meet the empowered committee of state finance ministers to discuss the contours of the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST) at a two-day meeting in Kolkata starting Tuesday. The recent addition to the ruling alliance’s strength in the Upper House and the indications that a clutch of non-NDA parties like Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and NCP could support the tax reform have brightened the chances of GST Constutional Amendment Bill getting passed by the Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session.
Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha was quoted as saying on Monday that the new indirect tax regime through GST would be rolled out from April 1, 2017. “If we can pass it in the monsoon session (of Parliament beginning next month), we can implement it in April 1, 2017,” Sinha told a news agency.
Currently, the empowered committee is headed by West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra, which is likely to talk out issues, including exemptions list and levy of tax over tobacco products.
The Narendra Modi government is targeting to reach a political consensus over the proposed GST, so that it could clear the floors of Parliament in the upcoming session next month.
“Our expectation is that we will get support from many parties. We would like it to be passed with a national consensus, so we would like all parties to approve it. In the Lok Sabha when the Constitution amendment was passed, it was passed unanimously. So, we would like it to be passed in the Rajya Sabha unanimously as well,” Sinha told the news agency.
According to reports, the GST Bill, which is expected to be one of the biggest tax reforms in recent times, has also been discussed at the recently held the BJP national executive meet in Allahabad.
The Congress has been stubborn in demanding some crucial changes in the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill, including mentioning the GST rate in the Constitution. The government has indicated that it is willing to drop a plan to introduce a 1% tax on inter-state transactions. The tax was mulled in view of the fact that GST would help consuming states more than maufacturing states.