New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has charged the Congress with opposing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill solely for political reasons and said that if such opposition continues, the government will have no option other than putting the draft legislation for voting in the Rajya Sabha.
“Only one political party, the Congress (is opposing). And that’s a political opposition. That’s not an ideological opposition,” Jaitley told All India Radio in an interview.
He said, “I am trying my best to talk to them, so that they can come around. And if they don’t, then, we will have no option but to put it to vote.”
The key draft legislation that seeks to harmonize the entire system of taxation by subsuming all indirect taxes under one regime was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2015 and is pending in the Rajya Sabha since then.
The Congress and other opposition parties that have the numerical advantage in the upper house have been stalling passage of the GST bill.
The bill seeks to ensure that a GST Council will recommend rates of tax, period of levy of additional tax, principles of supply and special provisions to certain states. The GST Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister, Union Minister of State for Revenue, and state Finance Ministers.
The Bill empowers the centre to impose an additional tax of up to one per cent on the inter-state supply of goods for two years or more. This tax will accrue to states from where the supply originates, officials say.
On the last day of the just concluded parliament session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lamented that the GST bill could not be passed and also that it would have helped the states.
In his interview to All India Radio, Jaitley said India can achieve even better growth rate.
“I think the first important factor, which is beyond our control, is that the world starts growing faster. So if, global tail winds support us, then our ability to grow faster will be there. But that is something not in our control,” he said.
Elaborating, he said, the second important factor is oil and commodity prices must remain at a moderate level. “The present regime suits us, because as net buyers, we are buying at a cheaper price and therefore, we are saving a lot of money. The third important factor is that India’s private sector has to get more active.”
Replying to a question on the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, the minister said the government is not cutting subsidies but only rationalising them as the subsidies should reach the poor only.
“We are not cutting subsidies. We are rationalising them. Subsidies must reach the vulnerable. Subsidies must only reach the poor. That’s the objective of the government,” he said.
He added that in the case of LPG, while the new policy on direct benefit transfer has been successfully implemented, in the next stage the government would be “trying other areas like fertiliser and food- pilot schemes”.