Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said his party is on board with the Centre’s Goods and Services Tax Bill, leaving the Congress with little support for its opposition against the Bill. After a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Kumar said, “We have always supported the GST. We supported it during the UPA and support it now. This is in the interest of the country and states. Our party fully supports it.” The Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal and Samajwadi party have already said they will back the Bill.
Kumar mentioned that his party is not in favour of capping GST rates, which the Congress wants Bill as it is currently envisioned. The Congress is an alliance partner in the JD(U)-led government in Bihar.
The National Democratic Alliance government is desperate to have the Bill passed during the ongoing Monsoon Session, but has consistently faced a roadblock in the Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority. However, with Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) pledging their support, the Congress remains the only major party to still have reservations.
The GST Bill seeks to bring in a single tax rate to replace India’s complicated current rules, which include Central excise duty, service tax, additional customs duties, value added tax, entertainment tax and so on. The Centre believes this will help create a unified market in the country, avoiding double taxation and increase compliance. The GST will have a Central component, and a state component, which both forms of government will administer at their levels.