Indicating that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill may not go through in the current session of Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the Bill was being delayed for “collateral reasons”. However, the Minister added that the government will push for other reform bills in the Rajya Sabha in the remaining three days of the Winter Session, which ends on Wednesday. The bills include amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, a legislation to set up commercial courts and bankruptcy code.
Addressing the annual general meeting of industry chamber Ficci, Jaitley said, “I have no doubt in my mind that attempt to delay (GST) is entirely for collateral reasons. And the only collateral reason I suspect is if I couldn’t do it, then why should somebody else do it?”
Politics should not become a hurdle to larger interest of the country, he said, adding that it would not be possible for the government to accept Congress party’s demand of prescribing GST tariff in the Constitution itself. “A delayed GST is better than a flawed GST,” he said. The GST Bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA government does not have a majority as well as stiff opposition by the Congress. The government had planned to roll out GST from April 1, 2016. The Bill, which is being touted as the biggest reform in indirect taxation since Independence, is unlikely to be taken in the remaining three days of the Winter Session. The Lok Sabha has already passed the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill and Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill. These are likely to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha next week.