Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The much delayed bill to amend the constitution and introduce a Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to be moved by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The government is confident of getting through Rajya Sabha the constitutional amendment bill that would pave way for introduction of Goods and Services Tax in the country.
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, which lays the ground for roll out of Goods and Services Tax regime that will subsume various central indirect taxes including the Central Excise Duty, Countervailing Duty, Service Tax, etc. It also subsumes state value added tax, octroi and entry tax, luxury tax among others.
The government yesterday circulated official amendments to the GST bill to drop 1 percent additional tax and include a definite provision in the statute for compensating states for revenue loss for 5 years.
Under the modified provisions of GST Constitutional Amendment Bill circulated among the members, GST Council will be required to establish a mechanism for adjudication of disputes, which could arise between the Centre and states or among states themselves.
Last week, the Union Cabinet had cleared changes in the Bill dropping one percent additional tax on inter-state sales and providing guarantee to compensate states for any revenue loss in the first five years of rollout.
Jaitley has been meeting leaders of Congress and other parties, including SP, BJD, TMC and RJD, to build a consensus on the passage of the long pending indirect tax reform bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The expected passage of a key constitutional amendment would resolve crucial issues needed to transform India`s USD 2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion consumers into a single market for the first time.
Both the BJP and the Congress have already issued a whip to their members making it compulsory for them to be present in the house on Wednesday.
The bill has been long stuck as government does not have a majority in the upper house, and main opposition Congress was so far not in agreement to the bill.
The long-continuing negotiations on the bill between government and the Congress also saw government dropping a provision for one percent inter-state tax from the bill.
The GST bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014, and was passed by the Lok Sabha around five months later on May 6. It was then referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha which submitted its report on July 22.
These amendments will need to get the nod of the Lok Sabha again, following which at least 50 percent of the states need to ratify the bill for it to become a statute. This again could be a long-drawn process, since states will have their own issues and queries.
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.
With Agency Inputs