Opposition wants Select Committee on GST Bill to consult States too

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Bhalchandra Mungekar

The Bill is our baby, says Congress

More roadblocks are awaiting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill as the Opposition is set to demand in the newly constituted Select Committee to hold wider consultations with stakeholders, including States.

Going a step further, the Congress has decided to examine the Gujarat government’s earlier opposition to the old Bill, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of the State, and whether the new Bill has addressed the concerns raised by Modi then.

The Congress, however, maintained that it will not oppose the Bill for the sake of opposing it.

“We are for an integrated market and a uniform tax rate. We will examine whether the new Bill stands for these two principles. Also, the new government has made substantial changes to the Bill. We will have to study these changes carefully as the BJP inherently believes in concentration of power even while they talk about cooperative federalism,” said Bhalchandra Mungekar, economist and Congress member in the Select Committee.

Mungekar said that during the UPA regime, the Bill was widely debated among the public.

“Modi was a fierce critic of the Bill. We will see his objections in the past and the ground for those objections. We will also have to see how the new government has dealt with those objections,” he said, adding that the Bill is the Congress’s baby.

The Left parties also want wider consultation on the Bill. “The Select Committee is bound to consult all stakeholders. We will suggest that all States, trade unions and industry associations be heard by the panel,” said CPI national secretary D Raja, also a member of the panel. The Left has been maintaining that States should not lose the power to decide on taxes due to the GST.

First meeting

The first meeting of the panel is likely to be held towards the end of this month. A notification inviting suggestions from the public is also expected soon after the first meeting.

The panel has time till the first week of the Monsoon Session of Parliament — around the third week of July — to submit the report. Panel chief Bhupender Yadav, however, did not comment on the issue. He said the committee is yet to hold its first meeting.

The Centre tried hard to ensure the passage of the GST Bill in the Budget Session, which concluded on Wednesday.

Though most of the opposition parties, except the AIADMK, did not oppose the Bill in principle, they insisted that it go to a select committee.

Published on May 14, 2015

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