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Ahead Of GST Debate, Arun Jaitley Says 'Confident Of Consensus': 10 Facts

NDTV logo NDTV 29-03-2017

NEW DELHI: The July 1 deadline for the launch of the Goods and Services Tax or GST "looks real," union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV on Wednesday morning just ahead of a debate in the Lok Sabha or lower house of Parliament on four supporting bills crucial to the roll-out a unified tax regime. Seven hours have been allotted for today's debate, initiated by Mr Jaitley, who is detailing the provisions of the bills and the benefits of GST. For the Congress, former union minister M Veerappa Moily will be first speaker.

Here are the 10 latest developments on this big story:

The Government requested the Speaker to skip Zero Hour today to start the debate early. After the debate, the 250-odd clauses in the bills will be voted on one by one and the process will take a long time..

Arun Jaitley said the government is confident of a consensus on the bills in the house today. He also said the government was on track with GST and he is "reasonably hopeful" of a July 1 launch. "I am reasonably hopeful. So far, we are maintaining the timelines. Unless something unforeseen happens, the July 1 target looks real," Mr Jaitley told NDTV.

The government has emphasised that it wants the GST bills to be passed in Parliament with the consensus of all parties as was witnessed in August last year when a bill to amend the Constitution was passed to facilitate the launch of GST.

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The Congress says the bills in their current form are "not acceptable" and its speakers today will raise their concerns and demand changes. The party's main demand reportedly still remains a flat GST rate rather than a four-slab structure.

But senior Congress leaders are also wary of being seen as stalling the biggest tax reform since Independence and have suggested treading cautiously. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi told his party's lawmakers at a meeting on Tuesday that they should play the role of a constructive opposition.

The government, which has a big majority in the Lok Sabha, expects to get the lower house's approval for the GST bills with ease in the vote at the end of today's debate. Any amendments sought by the Congress or other opposition parties will also be voted on.



The bills will then go to the Rajya Sabha or upper house for discussion. Because they are all "money bills", the Rajya Sabha can suggest changes which will be taken back to the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha can choose to accept or reject the proposals.

The government has to ensure that this entire process is wrapped up by April 12, when the Budget session on Parliament ends, to be able to to meet the July 1 launch date. It has already missed an earlier deadline of April 1 for GST roll-out.

The bills being debated today are the Central GST bill, the Integrated GST bill, the Union Territories GST bill and the compensation law. Once these get Parliament's nod, a state GST bill will be presented in state assemblies for their approval.

GST subsumes a slew of indirect taxes at the centre and in states. The one-nation one-tax regime is expected to boost the rate of economic growth by about 0.5 percentage points, broaden the revenue base and cut compliance cost for firms.

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