Government is hopeful of passage of the GST bill in the winter session of parliament claiming 30 of the 32 parties have supported it.
Government is awaiting the response of Congress on the key legislation as it wants to take it along by addressing its concerns on the bill which is likely to be taken up in Rajya Sabha next week.
“We are making efforts for its passage. The public mood is almost one-sided in favour of the GST,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.
He said he, along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has already talked to Congress leaders in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge after the all-party meeting yesterday and discussed the GST with them as well as the issues raised by them.
The Congress leaders wanted to discuss the issue with the party leadership and sought time before it gets back to the government in a day or two, after which government will seek to address the concerns.
“Substantial issues have already been discussed,” he said.
Naidu claimed that of the total 32 parties represented at the all-party meet, 30 were in favour of the legislation and wanted its early passage.
BSP and NCP have already extended their support to the bill and want it to be passed in the current session.
The government is also keen that Congress is onboard in the passage of the Constitution amendment bill as it is primarily a Congress bill.
“We want to take Congress along. That is our motive,” he said, adding that Congress did not oppose the bill in Lok Sabha but did so in Rajya Sabha due to political reasons.
NCP leader Praful Patel said “we are in favour of GST. It should be passed in this session. If some good suggestions come, the government should be open to incorporate those.”
BSP supremo Mayawati said “government is saying that the implementation of GST will improve and strengthen the economy. It is in the interest of the country. We will, therefore, support this.”
Sources said Congress’ concerns on the tax reform measure have already narrowed down from seven to three now. These include that the revenue-neutral rate be not higher than 18 per cent and it be mentioned in the Constitution Amendment bill.
It also wants 100 per cent compensation to states for revenue loss for all five years and is opposed to states being given powers to levy additional 1 per cent tax on supply of goods over and above GST rate, the sources said.
Congress has said that it is open to discussions on GST bill on which it has “very genuine concerns”.
“We are open to discussions. Let us see how far they go ahead,” Azad said earlier adding that the party was ready to discuss it with government.
“GST is our bill,” he said yesterday along with Kharge.
Noting that Congress has “very genuine concerns” on the measure, he insisted that the party wanted a pro-industry, pro-trade and pro-consumer GST which is “neither one-sided, nor lop-sided and help all three sectors”.
“We would like to support each and every bill on merit. Our concerns should be taken on board. For us, each legislation is important,” was the refrain of Azad and Kharge.
GST, which will subsume more than a dozen state levies to create a single market, is to be implemented from April 1, 2016. A Constitution Amendment Bill could not go through the Rajya Sabha in the last session of Parliament due to opposition from Congress.
The April 1 deadline may be missed if Parliament does not pass the Bill in the session from November 26 to December 23.
Once the Bill is passed, more than half of the states have to ratify it before Parliament passes another enabling bill to implement GST.