Opposition stalls GST Bill, Sonia leads walkout
The Hindu, April 25,
government?s attempt to secure parliamentary approval for the
long-pending Goods and Services Tax regime, a key reform
measure, hit its first roadblock on Friday within minutes of
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moving it for consideration
in the Lok Sabha.
Impervious to Mr
Jaitley?s plea that the Bill?s enactment would lead to a
?win-win? situation for both the Centre and the states, increase
the country?s GDP and its revenues, opposition MPs belonging to
the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Left Parties and the
Nationalist Congress Party, led by Sonia Gandhi, walked out in
protest against the government?s refusal to send it to a
The AIADMK and the
Biju Janata Dal, too, opposed the consideration but did not join
the walkout. AIADMK leader and Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai said
that if implemented in its present form, the Bill would result
in Tamil Nadu losing as much as Rs 16,000 crores, a contention
contested by the Finance Minister.
More time sought to
study GST Bill
The Union government
had been banking on the Congress for help to pass the Goods and
Services Tax Bill in both Houses of Parliament. Since this key
reform measure comes in the form of a Constitution Amendment
Bill, it requires two-thirds support, making the backing of the
Congress all the more critical.
Urging the Congress
to support the Bill, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
stressed, ?The UPA must start supporting legislation that it
itself introduced ? You should be happy that the good work which
was done by your government, I?m accepting that, complimenting
you and taking it forward.?
Congress is unwilling to support this version of the Bill as it
differs from the one that the UPA government had drafted, a
point that M. Veerappa Moily of the party made.
alleging that the government was ?bulldozing? them and bringing
the Bill in a ?hush-hush? manner, sought more time to study the
?new? legislation. Meanwhile, they said, Parliament could
complete the financial business for which the Budget Session was
Mr. Jaitley assured
the Opposition of all cooperation from the government to
complete the business of demands for grants of various
Ministries before the Guillotine is applied on April 28.
After an hour of
heated exchanges over procedure between the government and the
Opposition, the Bill was taken up after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan
ruled that it was an important piece of legislation on which the
Finance Minister could make introductory comments, with a
discussion at a later date.
In his introductory
remarks, Mr. Jaitley sought to assuage fears of the States that
they would suffer revenue losses once the GST was implemented,
saying the Centre and the States would have concurrent powers to
levy tax on goods and services.
Stressing that when
the value-added tax (VAT) was introduced, the States had
demanded compensation for more than five years, he said not a
single State asked for compensation in the sixth year.
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