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  1. Finance Minister Jaitley takes on opposition leaders in Lok Sabha GST debate

Finance Minister Jaitley takes on opposition leaders in Lok Sabha GST debate

As expected, the opposition parties, led by senior leaders including P Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma and others seemed to be unrelenting, with Jaitley trying his best to field the sharp queries and critiques on the proposed GST bills.

By: | Published: March 29, 2017 6:54 PM
gst, gst bill, narendra modi, modi, pm modi, arun jaitley, all about gst bills, gst tax bill, goods and services tax, gst bill rajya sabha, excise act, customs act, gst bill parliament latest news, india news, While the opposition leaders seemed to be unrelenting, Jaitley tried his best to field the sharp queries and critiques.

Even as the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday sought to highlight the widespread consent for the proposed GST, the Lok Sabha witnessed intense debate in the government’s quest to bring in arguably the most ambitious tax reform in the country.

While moving the four GST bills in the Lok Sabha for debate and consideration today morning, Jaitley said that the GST laws will be based on the recommendation of the the GST council of 32 participants including the Centre, states and Union Territories, which has made sure that the decisions related to the formulation of the bills are taken through consensus.

However, as expected, the opposition parties, led by senior leaders including P Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma and others seemed to be unrelenting, with Jaitley trying his best to field the sharp queries and critiques.

Here are some interesting comments and counter-comments from today’s discussion:

On Section 132 to search income-tax assessees without disclosing reasons

  • Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram:
    Let the Finance Minister say that all he wants is to protect the source, but the reasons will be given to the assessee whenever he wants to challenge it.
  • Arun Jaitley:
    My answer is very specific. The reasons will be given to the court and court alone, otherwise, even the moment the satisfaction note, the reasons will make it clear as to what is the source and what is the nature of economic intelligence.

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On using Aadhaar in taxation

  • P Chidambaram:
    Aadhaar was an instrument to extend services, benefits and subsidies. It was never intended to be tagged to I-T and bank accounts. But if your government has taken that call so be it. Larger questions is how will you protect the privacy of transactions, facts, materials. The Pentagon is being hacked – what is the guarantee you can prevent hacking of Aadhaar. MS Dhoni’s wife has complained his Aadhaar number is being made public.
  • Arun Jaitley:
    The Pentagon got hacked even without the Aadhaar being there. So, hacking doesn’t happen because of Aadhaar.
  • P Chidambaram:
    I appeal to the FM to not trivialise the question. If you don’t want to answer, say so.
  • Arun Jaitley:
    If firewalls are to be breached they can happen anywhere. Let us assume there is no Aadhaar but some information in some network gets hacked because of the technology. It was an immature behaviour on behalf of the person who went there (on MS Dhoni incident).
    There are provisions in the Aadhaar legislation that can allow them to be prosecuted. For these reasons, it does not mean we will go back to obsolete technology or methods of data collection. Technology is always a learning experience.

On GST Bills draft

  • P Chidambaram:
    I wish to point out to the honourable finance minister that there are still pieces of clumsy drafting in this bill… if the honourable finance minister reads it more carefully, he will find that these are exquisite pieces of clumsy drafting.

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On GST revenue-neutral rate

  • P Chidambaram:
    The central government will have to include the tax rate in the GST bill that will follow the Constitution amendment. The Congress will launch a sustained campaign to ensure that the GST bill that will subsequently be brought by the government for Parliament’s approval should mention the 18% cap on the standard rate.

On Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s statement that India is tax compliant

  • Arun Jaitley:
    Our direct tax base — the total number of people that file income-tax returns is 3.7 crore, of whom, 99 lakh don’t pay tax, as they declare an income of below Rs 2 lakh. I am presuming that the whole hypothesis that India is a tax compliant society is built on the basis that everybody who transacts in property or consumes any luxury goods pays only by cheque.
    Entire assessment and critique of various provisions of the Finance Bill is really based on an erroneous hypothesis that everything is fine. Therefore, it is not surprising that for 10 years you did not take any significant steps in that direction.

On bringing GST as Money bills

  • Veerappa Moily:
    All members of the Rajya Sabha should resign if they have any pride left. I think history will definitely reveal what kind of deprivation we are doing to the federal concept of this great nation.

On federal structure of GST council

  • Arun Jaitley:
    GST Council is India’s first federal institution, where sovereignty of the Centre and states in relation to indirect taxes has been pooled together in a federal institution. To create India’s first federal institution, it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that this federal institution works.

 

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