The winter session of the Parliament which began on the 26th of November will have 20 sittings spread across 28 days. There are 38 legislative items including seven new bills to be discussed and passed during the winter session which ends on 23rd of December. Out of the 38 agenda items, 24 are on the priority of the government with the GST bill on the top of the list.
The Congress which had initiated the GST reform bill when it was in power is in a tight spot as it is being seen as blocking the reform legislation. It had also put up eight change requirements in the GST bill. The Congress has however declared that it is all in favour of the GST and has shown its willingness to talk to the government. The Congress will now be pushing for the three major change requirements in the GST bill.
- The maximum GST applicable should be capped at 18%.
- To scrap the proposal for levying of the 1% additional tax on Inter-state transactions.
- Setting of an authority for the disputes settlement in line with the GST bill.
The Congress wants that the GST bill should be able to cater to the consumers, trade, and industry. They are quite hopeful that the government will address their genuine concerns. BJP which is very keen on the bill has also shown its willingness to talk with the opposition. As per the Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, the Finance minister Arun Jaitley would be talking to the Congress and other parties.
The panel headed by the chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian will submit its report on the revenue neutral rate in the 1st week of December. The cap of 18% is something which can be discussed or even left to the GST council to decide.
As you are already aware, the GST bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha but is getting stalled in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP does not have a majority. Congress which had ensured that the previous parliamentary session was a washout seems to have changed its stance and appears to be in line for the passage of the bill.
The plan for implementation of the GST by the ruling party has been set at 1st April 2016. This date is already very difficult to achieve and can be set back further if the GST bill is not passed in the winter session. There are multiple benefits associated with the GST and the industry, stock markets, and the economy, in general, is carefully watching the turn of events. India has already made some progress in the rank for ease of doing business and it will get a further fillip if the GST is passed.
If the Modi government is able to get the GST bill through, it will be a major victory for the BJP. The GST will be the biggest reform of the decade in India and likely to improve tax revenues. With this increase, the economists are also quite hopeful that the country’s GDP is likely to get a fillip of 1 to 2%.