New Delhi: The government on Tuesday continued with its efforts to build a consensus over the passage of the GST bill in this Parliament session even as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after which he offered JD (U)'s support to the legislation.
However, Congress remained non-committal on its support to the bill and hoped that the government given its mandate will show "magnanimity" in creating a platform where all the parties can come together and ensure that it gets passed.
Amid government's outreach to get Opposition support on the bill, Kumar met Jaitley, who earlier in the Rajya Sabha pitched for its expeditious passage to enable states get a share of the Service Tax which is not shared under the provisions of 14th Finance Commission.
"We have always supported the GST. We supported it during the UPA and support it now. This is in the interest of the country and states. Our party fully supports it," the JD(U) chief told reporters after the meeting.
His party spokesperson K C Tyagi said the bill should be passed in this session.
Briefing reporters, Congress spokesman Gaurav Gogoi said his party has stated its position prior to the session which was very clear and conveyed to the government.
"The Congress party wants to see the GST in principle to be enforced, a strong GST bill with strong enough provisions and we hope that the government given its mandate will show a magnanimity in allowing a different set of opinions and will allow that platform to be created so that all of us can come together and ensure that the GST gets passed," he said.
On whether the party was invited for more consultations, he said as of now he had no information regarding any further invitation by the government for a meeting.
Earlier in the BJP's Parliamentary Party meeting,
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had listed passage of the bill in the current session as a priority for government.
Asserting that GST is in the interest of the nation, Kumar later told reporters that the approach of all political parties including Congress is "positive" towards this bill and the government was hopeful that there will be a consensus.
He had earlier said they will hold more meetings with Opposition parties including Congress to build a consensus on the GST bill.
"We are ready to go the extra mile to build consensus over this bill," he had said.
The GST bill, which will help to create a single national sales tax to replace several state and central levies, has already been approved by the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Upper House where the government doesn't have a majority.
It intends to convert 29 states into a single market through a new indirect tax regime, was earlier planned to be introduced from April 1, but the deadline was missed as the bill to roll it out remains in a limbo in the Opposition- dominated Rajya Sabha.
After Parliament approves the constitutional amendment to allow GST, it needs to be ratified by more than half of the states. Then, Parliament must pass another bill to implement GST.
The government is also banking on support from smaller regional parties to pass the national sales tax legislation in the Upper House of Parliament and then get supporting laws enacted by the year-end so that GST is introduced from April 2017.