The Goods and Services Tax Bill, which the Narendra Modi-led government has been trying to pass for years, has been listed for hearing in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Bill, which envisions scrapping India’s many indirect taxes and creating a single tax regime, has already been passed in the Lok Sabha, but not in the Upper House, where the Bharatiya Janata Party does not have a majority. The government put forward the Bill for hearing and passage after renewed talks with the Opposition went positively.
According to The Times of India, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said, “We seek support of all political parties. The mood is in favour of its passage.”
The BJP government had slowly secured the support of all the major opposing parties, with Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar giving his assent last week. The Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party had also said they would back the Bill. The Bill’s biggest opponent, the Congress also indicated on Thursday that they were finally budging on the issue. The parties also met on Monday and appeared to arrive at a consensus.
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.