No consensus among Opposition parties on GST Bill amendments

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The four GST Bills being debated in the Rajya Sabha are likely to get an easy walkover on Thursday, as the Opposition seems to have toned down reservations against the Bill.

The Congress had unsuccessfully moved amendments to the Bill in the Lok Sabha, particularly on the role of the GST Council. But, in the Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition has majority, the Congress has apparently failed to get a consensus on the amendments.

“The Rajya Sabha is unlikely to recommend any amendments to the four GST Bills. The GST Council, consisting of all States, already had several rounds of discussions on the Bills. Discussions are taking place among various Opposition leaders, but there is no consensus on any as of now,” a senior Rajya Sabha member from the Opposition told BusinessLine, requesting anonymity as the discussions are still on.

List of exclusions

The Upper House started the debate on the four Bills on Wednesday. Initiating the debate, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the rate of GST will be one of the highest in the world.

“This is a concern. When we look at the global scenario, the GST rates are less than 18 per cent. The Finance Minister alone can explain that when you have such a heavy list of exclusions, how are you going to help in achieving the objective, particularly in bringing down the burden on industries by bringing down the transaction costs,” Sharma said. He said the Rajya Sabha is deliberately not being given the importance when it comes to passing of important legislations.

Jobs creation

Later, talking to reporters, Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Gowda said the Bill was a brainchild of the erstwhile UPA government, and hoped its passage would lead to creation of more jobs. Gowda also said that the five-slab regime was a complicated tax regime.

“Indirect taxes must be kept manageable, affordable and not inflationary. We don’t have clarity whether services will be taxed at different rates.

“Those services which impact common man should be kept low. The cesses included in the GST regime should be phased out in a time-bound manner,” Gowda said.

Read more at:  http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/no-consensus-among-opposition-parties-on-gst-bill-amendments/article9618120.ece