Congress may move GST amendments in Rajya Sabha

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Congress will follow up on its trenchant criticism of the Goods and Services Tax bills in Lok Sabha by moving amendments in Rajya Sabha where the opposition has the numbers to embarrass the government.

It is likely that the amendments will be pressed and approved as was done with the Finance Bill, with the upper House accepting five changes to the legislation.

 Read All About GST from Beginning

However, with the GST being a ‘money bill’ like the finance bill, the changes will be non-binding. However, Congress sources clarified that party-ruled states will implement the GST and be part of the ‘onecountry-one-tax’ structure.

Congress’s intensity of criticism in the lower House raised questions whether the party would move to the extreme of opting out of the new tax. The decision to follow the LS strategy in the upper House will only reinforce the perception that Congress could junk the GST in its states.

“We are in favour of the GST and that is why we passed the Constitution amendment bill which was not possible without the opposition’s support. But there are serious problems with details of the proposed tax law. We are only discharging the responsibility of the opposition by warning about the implications of certain provisions,” a senior Congress member said.

This stance reconciles the contradiction between Congress-ruled states voting for the GST in the GST council and the party criticising it in Parliament.

Not that the Congress’s aggression is going to affect the BJP-led government which has laid the bottomline that the bills should be passed. PM Narendra Moditweeted the imminence of the law by celebrating its passage in LS on Wednesday.

Congress itself has been in a bind over how to conduct itself after having backed the Constitution amendment bill it held back by a year. The moment it voted for the change, the opposition ceded its influence on the government since the four central bills were to be ‘money bills’ and not subject to majority in Rajya Sabha.

On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi chaired a strategy meeting where it was decided that the party should not come across as blocking the GST but should make clear its objections to the details.

 

Times of India, 31 March 2017
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