Between govt & bills, the panels opposition wants

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The Indian Express, April 29, 2015

The Land amendement bill stuck, the passage of the GST Bill too appears uncertain in the ongoing session. With the opposition pressuring the government to refer the constitutional amendment bill to a parliamentary committee, the Centre may consider obliging them, sources in the government have hinted.

The sources, however, added the government is also trying through various channels to get regional parties on board for a consensus. ?Even if the government manages its way in Lok Sabha, it cannot bulldoze its way in Rajya Sabha given the unity in the opposition,? a source said.

Apart from the Congress, the AIADMK, the Left parties and the BJD are demanding referral to the standing committee. Having taken a stand, however, the Congress appears in two minds. ?The decision of whether to refer the bill to a standing committee or joint select committee will be taken by the party after detailed discussions,? Congress spokesperson Rajiv Gowda told reporters.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while taking up the bill on April 24, mentioned that the bill had already ?gone for two-and-a-half years to the standing committee?. Jaitley also mentioned there had been detailed deliberation with the empowered committee of state finance ministers and the present bill has since been revised based on the recommendations of the standing committee and the empowered committee.

So far, the government has not been able to push any major bills in the budget session. With the opposition ruling out a compromise on the land bill, the government had so far been hoping on an easier passage for the GST Bill.

M Thambi Durai, deputy speaker and AIADMK leader, has said that Tamil Nadu, being a manufacturing state, would lose Rs 10,000 crore per year if GST is introduced. ?Already Tamil Nadu has written a letter to you. We are losing Rs 10,000 crore per year because of this GST introduction. You have said that the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are objecting to it? How are you going to compensate that?? he has asked the finance minister.

BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab has said parties wanted the bill to go to a standing committee. ?It?s a different bill altogether (than what went to standing committee earlier) and in a non-partisan way, the MPs of the standing committee should go into this. Neither was it decided at any level, nor was any of us aware that this would not go to the standing committee,? he has said.

According to a Congress leader, its allies in the UPA would demand that the bill be referred to a parliamentary panel. ?No one is opposing the GST bill. But some states have reservations and the government has to clear all of them before taking such a big step,? said a Congress leader. ?Among the suggestions, there is a proposal to send it to a joint select committee, a time-bound parliamentary committee with members from both Houses,? he said.

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