GST: Rajya Sabha likely to take up Bill on Monday or Tuesday

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The Rajya Sabha is likely to take up GST Bill on Monday or Tuesday, now that the Cabinet has cleared changes in the Constitutional Amendment Bill, in line with the demands from the state governments, according to a report by CNN-News18.

The Cabinet had on Wednesday dropped the 1 percent manufacturing tax and providing guarantee to compensate states for any revenue loss in the first five years of rollout of the proposed indirect tax regime. This has been one of the three demands by the main opposition Congress party too.

The government has been taking all steps possible to get the Bill passed in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, which ends on August 12. According to the sources cited by the TV channel, all differences with the parties involved have been ironed out and the government is likely to take up the Bill next week in the Rajya Sabha.

Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, CPI’s D Raja, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal met finance minister Arun Jaitley today to sort out the differences over GST, said the report.

The advisory committee of the Rajya Sabha will meet again on Thursday.

The Empowered group of state finance minister had two days ago reached a consensus that small businesses with turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore in a year should come under purview of only state governments and dual control of states and centre can be exercised over businesses larger than them.

However, according to the report by the TV channel Samajwadi Party wants this turnover limit to be raised from Rrs 1.5 crore. The party has also demanded that the BJP should hold all-party meet on the issue.

The changes approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday are to the Constitutional Amendment Bill that was approved by the Lok Sabha in May last year. Once the Rajya Sabha approves the legislation, the amended Bill will have to go back to the Lok Sabha again for approval.

The Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha has already set aside five-and-half hours to debate the legislation. The government is also meeting all the parties seeking support for in the Upper House.

Most of the major political parties, barring AIADMK, are now supporting the Bill. The Congress also seems to have softened its stance.

The amendments were taken up by the Cabinet after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s assurance to state finance ministers to include in the Bill the mechanism of compensating states for all the loss of revenue for five years.

The Bill, in its present form, provides that the Centre will give 100 per cent compensation to states for first three years, 75 per cent and 50 per cent for the next two years.

By doing away with the 1 percent inter-state tax over and above the GST rate, the government has met one of the three key demands over which Opposition Congress has been blocking the Bill in the Upper House.

The other two demands of the Congress — including GST rate in the statute and a Supreme Court judge-headed dispute resolution body — have not been accepted. It remains to be seen if meeting of its demands halfway will persuade the Congress to support the legislation.

A PTI report earlier said there is a talk of mentioning the GST rate in one of the two supporting legislations that need to be passed after the Constitution is amended, a move that may pacify the Congress.

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