New Delhi: History will record the disruptions being witnessed in India’s parliament to the detriment of the reforms process, when it talks about the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.
“History will record the disruptors, those who are hurting India’s parliamentary system,” Jaitley said at an interactive session here on GST organised by industry chamber FICCI along with Confederation of All India Traders, Assocham, the Confederation of Indian Industry and PHD Chamber.
“I see this as a turning point. If by sheer noise and disturbance, session after session is not allowed to function, it will be a precedent for the future, for all opposition, for Indian democracy itself,” he said.
“Passing legislation will get increasingly difficult, while decision making will have to take place increasingly through executive action and money bills,” the finance minister added.
The GST Bill, which seeks to usher in a pan-India common market by reforming the country’s indirect tax regime, was passed in the Lok Sabha in May, but has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.
Going into the history of the GST Bill, Jaitley said being an issue that was supported by all parties, the tax itself was first mentioned in the election manifestos of parties in 2004.
“My predecessor P. Chidambaram talked of it in the the 2006 budget, while ex-finance minister Pranab Mukherjee introduced the bill in 2011,” he said.
All states had been brought on board on the issue, Jaitley added.
However, the Congress party’s precondition that the cap of 18 percent GST be placed in the constitutional amendment was difficult to accept because it would make raising taxes for exceptional reasons very difficult, the finance minister said.
“Can tariffs be cast in stone? Suppose we need to increase some taxes, we’d have to amend the constitution,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said GST represents the best of cooperative federalism in India by bringing Centre and the states together is a process of “pooling sovereignty” for the good of India.
“GST is the cleanest dual VAT (value added tax) system among large federal systems of the world,” he said.