Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday expressed hope that the much-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime would be in place after the 2014 general election.

Addressing Japanese and Indian business leaders, Dr. Singh assured them that India was committed to taking “hard and difficult” decisions in the long-term interest of the economy.He lamented that the present bilateral trade of $ 8 billion didn’tdo justice to the enormous potential that existed between the two countries.

In response to questions from industry representatives on further easing up of the tax regime and priority sector lending rules to expand financial services, and allowing opening of foreign bank branches in metropolitan cities, Dr. Singh reasoned that people of India had tasted the benefits of rapid growth and would not settle for less.

A top official of Mitsubishi Corporation told the Prime Minister that Japanese investors faced difficulties with different tax regimes in each Indian State, leading to complications. He wanted to know by when the GST regimewould be implemented.

“India is a federation and there are difficulties to bring States to agree to surrender tax power, but I am confident we will overcome the hurdle. We will work and we have been working to persuade more and more States to fall in line, but it does require amendment of the Constitution and needs much more energetic efforts than an ordinary piece of legislation,” Dr. Singh responded.

Chairman of Keidanren Hiromasa Yonekura said Japanese investors were keen on promoting private-public partnership but were facing hurdles because of the complicated tax regimes in India. Dr. Singh assured him that the government was determined to overcome these hurdles to enable the country return to the growth path of eight per cent. “So, I cannot say we can deliver tomorrow but if you ask me by 2014 once elections are out of the way, whichever government is there, there will be a general agreement of appropriate type in place to help propel India’s growth story,” he said.