In a move indicating a thaw in the impasse over the much awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, the Centre on Thursday reached out to the Congress to discuss the Bill.
Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu spoke to Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma regarding the landmark Bill.
Both the leaders assured Venkaiah that they will get back to him soon after consultations within their party.
Earlier, Naidu had said that the government is in the favour of passing the GST Bill during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which commences from July 18 and will go on till August 12.
“A lot of bills are pending in both the houses of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, and some are in Standing Committee. We will speak to all parties regarding the bills, even if it requires personal talks.
If GST is passed, Indian economy will grow further. We have wide support, but we will like every party to be part of consensus,” Naidu said.
The proposed tax reform, India’s biggest revenue shake-up since independence in 1947, seeks to replace a slew of federal and state levies, transforming the nation into a Customs Union.
The Congress Party, the original author of the tax reform, has said that it would back the GST if the government agreed to cap the tax rate at 18 percent and create an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government now is in lieu of hopes to have the Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The government today reached out to the Congress seeking its support for passage of the crucial GST bill, hanging fire for a long time due to stiff resistance by the main opposition party.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who earlier handled Parliamentary Affairs portfolio, called up Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma to seek Congress’ backing for passage of the crucial bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament starting July 18.
Sources said the calls were part of government’s efforts to reach out to the principal opposition party and engaging with its leadership in a bid to enlist their support for the crucial tax reform legislation.
“Yes, we had talked,” Azad said when asked if there was such a call from Naidu.
A meeting of top Congress leaders like Azad and Anand Sharma with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely tomorrow.
When Asked about the meeting with government to iron out the differences on GST, Azad said, “Yes, we are meeting. The meeting will take place, after that we will tell you.”
Asked about what could be the Congress stand at the meeting, Azad said, “I can’t say without having a meeting with them and finally deciding on it. We shall have to talk to our friends and allies also.”
The Constitution amendment bill for roll-out of GST is pending in Rajya Sabha for a long time and the government is keen to ensure its passage. The Goods and Services Tax seeks to bring a uniform tax structure subsuming a number of imposts and the government claims that it will help add 1 to 2 per cent to the country’s GDP.
Top Congress leaders had yesterday deliberated on the strategy for the session with party president Sonia Gandhi at her residence where GST was also discussed.