Government braces for GST test, hopeful of fruitful business

gts(IANS) With the long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill scheduled to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha during the week beginning Monday, the government exuded confidence that Parliament will witness “equally fruitful business” during the second week of the Monsoon session.

The government’s optimism stems from a smooth first week of the monsoon session of Parliament, when significant legislative business was carried out by both the houses.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is also likely to meet the empowered committee of state finance ministers on Tuesday with regard to the GST Bill.

“We had purposeful working sessions between Monday and Thursday, with a number of bills passed by both houses. We will have a smooth sail and equally fruitful business this week as well and are confident that there will be further forward movement on the GST Bill,” a key BJP leader told IANS on Sunday.

The Monsoon Session commenced on July 18. Parliamentary proceedings were disrupted only on last Friday after an uproar over Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann’s live streaming of video on social media regarding his travel to Parliament House.

The GST Bill, “as passed by the Lok Sabha and as reported by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha”, has been listed at number 3 for the coming week.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtaq Abbas Naqvi on Friday said the Upper House will take up for “further consideration and passing of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, as passed by the Lok Sabha and as reported by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha”.

This constitutional amendment is linked to the introducing of GST as a uniform tax bill across the country.

Echoing the sentiment of his party colleagues, Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar said in a statement on Saturday: “There is a widespread demand for early introduction of the GST from almost all the political parties, state governments, trade and industrial bodies and even the general public.”

The Rajya Sabha will also take up, among others, The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016, as passed by the Lok Sabha, The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016.

The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 were passed by Lok Sabha on July 19.

Ananth Kumar has appealed to all parties to “sense the mood of the nation” and “cooperate” in passing the GST Bill.

Keen on the passage of the GST Bill, the government has been holding a series of meetings with opposition leaders, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley chiefly meeting leaders from all parties, including the Congress.

The much-awaited bill envisions a pan-India Goods and Services tax or uniform tax to thoroughly overhaul India’s indirect tax regime.

It was first mooted by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2009 and has been already passed by the Lok Sabha, but is pending in the Rajya Sabha where the Narendra Modi government lacks a majority.

The Congress party reportedly is still insisting on a few changes in the much-talked about draft legislation.

For the next week, the Lok Sabha has listed various bills, including The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015; and The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

On Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the amended Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015, that was approved by the Union Cabinet last week, “is one step forward in eradicating black money” in the country.

“It will tighten the noose around wrongdoers and give more powers to the revenue officers to identify and take action against those who have banami properties. This bill again shows the right earnest of the Modi government in fighting the black money issue,” Kumar said.

Medaram Jathara

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