The long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was today moved in the Lok Sabha for consideration amid stiff resistance by several Opposition parties, even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it is a “win-win” measure and states have nothing to fear.
Members of the Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, along with those of the TMC, the Left and NCP staged a walk-out after their plea for referring the Constitution Amendment Bill to the Standing Committee was not accepted. The AIADMK and BJD also opposed its consideration but did not walk out.
The Opposition members, who alleged that the Government was “bull-dozing” and bringing the bill in a “hush hush” manner, wanted more time to study the “new” legislation and meanwhile finish the financial business.
Jaitley assured all cooperation from the Government to complete the business of demands for grants of various ministries before the Guillotine is applied on April 28.
After hour-long wrangling over the procedures between the ruling and the Opposition sides, the Bill was taken up when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ruled that it is an important legislation on which the Finance Minister can make introductory comments and a discussion can be taken up at a later date.
Commending the Bill for consideration and passage, Jaitley said: “GST is going to lead to a win-win situation as far as the Centre and the states are concerned. It is going to up India’s GDP. It is going to up India’s revenue and therefore I commend GST Constitution Amendment Bill to the House for (consideration)”.
Seeking to assuage the fears of states that they will lose out on revenues once GST is implemented, he said the Centre and the States will have concurrent power to levy tax on goods and services.
Stating that when Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced, states had demanded compensation for more than five years. However, not a single state asked for compensation in the sixth year.
“Therefore, please do not have this fear (of revenue loss on account of GST implementation),” he said, adding, besides, ease of doing business, GST will help “trade to grow and taxation of states will not be lost in any manner”.