The hype created by the government at the centre to convene a two day special session of Parliament as an extension to the monsoon session with a view to pass the GST bill has been done away with. Earlier the cabinet panel on parliamentary affairs had recommended to the President that the monsoon session of the Parliament be prorogued. But with the Congress party unrelenting in its stand to oppose the GST, there was not much of an option left.
With the Bihar elections also gaining momentum and scheduled for October-November, the government at the centre also did not want to lose focus. They know very well the importance of the governments at the state and the fact that they have to increase their numbers in the RajyaSabha to be able to get over the high handedness being shown by the Congress. But that may be likely by July of 2016. Is the government likely to wait for the GST till then?
As per the statements coming from the Finance Ministry, it will continue to pursue efforts in a bid to thrash out an agreement over the GST bill. The parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu has met the top Congress functionaries like Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily, Ghulam Nabi Azad,Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia and K V Thomas and everybody said that the GST is a good bill. Also most of the parties other than the Congress, in the opposition are in favour of the GST bill. Congress has been steadily demanding the resignations of the chief ministers of Rajasthan and MP to which the government is not agreed. They are open to the discussion in parliament as they feel that the ministers have not done anything wrong. The logjam has continued with the Congress not accepting any debate on the issue. They prefer to shout in the well of the house not allowing the parliament to function.
With this type of stand adopted by the Congress, the government needs to plan a strategy to tackle them in the winter session of the Parliament which is also likely in November. Venkaiah Naidu is still very optimistic about the April 16 deadline. He is of the view that the winter session of the Parliament can be pre-poned and the bill passed. As per him the states are already willing to take up the GST and with a little push they can fast track it.
But the passing of the constitutional amendment by the government is not the end of it. It will be followed by setting of the GST council. The most important task before this council which will comprise of the Union and State Finance Ministers would be to decide the details and arrive at a revenue neutral tax rate. This exercise is not likely to take less than four months. Only after that the implementation of the GST will take place.
With these developments it is evident that we are on the delayed path as far as the GST is concerned. It seems we are inching closer to the 2017 implementation.