Ahead of the long-delayed GST bill being taken up by the Rajya Sabha, the government circulated to the MPs the amendments it has proposed in the constitution amendment bill to enable implementation of the tax.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that the amendments to the bill, pending in the Upper House for the past year, were given to the Secretariat of the House two days ago and have been circulated to the members.
He was responding to concerns raised by some members, including Naresh Agrawal of the SP, who said they have not received copies of the bill or the amendment.
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, which would lay the ground for the rollout of a Goods and Services Tax regime, subsuming all indirect taxes, including central excise duty and State VAT/sales tax, is listed for consideration and passing in the Upper House on Wednesday.
Legislation was approved by the Lok Sabha in May 2015 and introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2015 where it has been pending due to opposition from the Congress over certain provisions.
The Cabinet, Mr. Agrawal said, had approved amendments to the bill and the same should be given to the members for them to go through before the debate on Wednesday.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said the bill was circulated to members in August 2015 before its introduction in the Upper House. That as per rules and procedures is okay, he said.
“However, if you need one more copy, [Rajya Sabha] Secretariat will circulate it,” he said adding if there were amendments proposed by the government to that bill they have to be circulated to members one day before the debate.
Mr. Jaitley said the amendments have been circulated as well.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M)) said the amendments have been received in electronic form and a printed copy may be given to the members. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) said printed copies of the amendments to the bill were received at his residence on Tuesday morning.
”I have been informed by the Secretariat that the amendments have been circulated,” Mr. Kurien said adding the bill could be re-circulated for the benefit of new members and those who have not read it.
A constitution amendment requires support of two-third of members present and voting. The amendment will then have to be approved by 50 per cent of all the State Assemblies.
The government is likely to move four amendments to the GST bill. These include one on scrapping of the proposed tax of up to 1 per cent on inter-State transactions to compensate manufacturing States and another one promising to compensate the States for any revenue loss in first five years of GST implementation.
The other amendment pertains to a new formulation on a dispute-resolution mechanism and an endorsement of the resolution by the empowered committee of State Finance Ministers on a revenue-neutral rate to bring down the incidence of tax on the common man while protecting revenues of States.
The Congress originally mooted the GST in 2006 and a constitution amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in March 2011 but it lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.