GST logjam: PM Modi meets top ministers to firm up strategy; Arun Jaitley says 'fingers crossed'
30 parties are said to be supporting the GST bill.
Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday night met top ministers of his Cabinet to firm up strategy for long-awaited Goods and Services Tax or GST bill, as per media reports.
It has been said that the government will next week, most likely on Tuesday, bring its proposal for the tax reform to the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also been a busy man.
On Thursday, Jaitley and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian held several rounds of talks with leaders of Congress and other parties, including the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal-United and the Communist Party of India-Marxist.
"We have our fingers crossed," Jaitley told reporters in the national capital.
Of the 32 parties, 30 are reportedly now supporting the bill.
"Discussion on the matter is going on with different political parties to build a consensus. The government is hopeful of passage of the Bill," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters outside Parliament.
"Most of the parties are on board," he said.
Dubbing the GST as an 'instrument of growth', the Congress, however, said that it must be passed but it must be practically implementable.
"There is no final assurance yet given to government either by Congress or other Opposition parties," Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala told a press conference, as per IANS.
"GST is not a political instrument but an instrument of growth which was blocked by then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj," he added.
The Congress leader said that "issues" are still being deliberated and the party is willing to negotiate.
"GST shouldn't be only consensus-based but it should also reflect the will of the nation," he said.
The party, however, welcomed the Union Cabinet's decision to approve key changes in the proposed legislation, including dropping the proposed one per cent additional tax on inter-state sale.
The Congress demands on the bill include capping GST rate at 18 percent and mentioning this in the Constitution Amendment Bill. It also wants an independent dispute resolution mechanism.
"The government has acceded to demands made by Congress and it hopes to persuade the government to agree on other issues," Surjewala said.
(With Agency inputs)