All Four GST Bills Passed by the LS, Modi Congratulates Countrymen

  • All four crucial GST Bills in Lok Sabha
  • Finance Bill returned from RajyaSabha w/ amendments
  • India has lost 12 Lakh crore because of delay in implementation of GST, Says Veerappa Moily
  • Congress is expected to move amendments to GST Bills
  • Arun Jaitley concluded his reply to the Finance Bill debate in Rajya Sabha
  • Discussion on Aadhaar will be taken up tomorrow

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime came a step closer to meet its 1 July target of rollout, on Monday with the Lok Sabha approving four supplementary legislations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight hailed the passage of GST supplementary bills by the Lok Sabha.

In a tweet he wrote, "Congratulations to all the countrymen over passage of the GST bills. New Year, New Law, New Bharat.”

The Central GST Bill, 2017; The Integrated GST Bill, 2017; The GST (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017; and The Union Territory GST Bill, 2017 were passed after negation of a host of amendments moved by the opposition parties.

Replying to the seven-hour-long debate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the GST, which will usher in a uniform indirect tax regime in the country, will make commodities "slightly cheaper".

Jaitley said that GST Council is working on the basis of consensus and slowly all items will come within the ambit of the new indirect tax regime, which will ensure free flow of goods and services throughout the country.

As regards Jammu and Kashmir, the Finance Minister said the law passed by Parliament will not apply to the state which will have to legislate its own law and integrate with the GST regime.

All four bills related to GST passed in the Lok Sabha .

The CGST Bill with amendments passed in Lok Sabha

On questions on why multiple rates are imposed Jaitley said:

Why are there multiple rates? I’ll tell you why. Without multiple rates, it’ll become a regressive tax. Can’t impose 15 percent on food.

Jaitley said that initially manufacturing states were against the GST unlike consuming states because they were going to lose tax, which is why a compensation package has been planned.

He said that the GST bill is being treated as a money bill because according to article 110, if a bill imposes tax, it shall deemed to be a money bill.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gives his reply to the debate on GST Bill in the Lok Sabha/

The constitution of India clearly divided the power between the Centre and the state. In the division of power there was no gray area, the GST actually created the gray area. The centre and the states will all merge their taxes into one. The bottleneck are to be removed for free movement...so the centre and the state have both pulled their taxes into one power and let us jointly administer this tax.

Congress leader Verappa Moily interrupted Jaitley and asked:

Who empowered the GST council to amend the law under article 265? Who will protect the fund? 

To this Jaitley said:

The GST council has been given the power to make a recommendation to the model law. The Constitution amendment gave that power to the Council.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley concluded his reply to the Finance Bill debate in the Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha votes on Finance Bill.

Discussion on Aadhaar will be taken up tomorrow.

Talking on the issue of Aadhaar identity Arun Jaitley said that the government readily accepts that it was the initiative of the previous government and the current government wants to expand it

We are candid enough to say thjat we accept that it’s a great initiative and we will expand it. either give your aaadhar number or give proof of it, that’s all why should we not allowed this technologuy which was created for this purpose not be utilised

Former FM Chidambaram cut him short and said:

The question is how will you protect thew privacy of identities what is the guarantee that personal information will not be leaked. We had introduced Aadhaar to extend services and benefits, it was never intended to be tied to it and bank accounts. 

To this Jaitley said:

If the firewalls are broken and hacking can take place, then hacking will take place anyway. The answer is not to avoid technology but to use better technology.

Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister Why shouldn’t charitable organisations with tax exemptions come under the IT scanner?

Congress Kapil Sibal said that the government was targeting their opponents on their funding but not the very organisations that fund BJP.

Your own organisations that fund you, those are the organisation that you never investigate. We have been going to the court since day one, you are investigating your opponents on charitable donations.

With regards to political funding, Jaitley said that so far most donors have been reluctant to disclose their identities, and electoral bonds will to some extent bring white money into politics.

By a primary amendment to the IT act we have made it possible for political funding is possible in four ways - cash, cheque, digital transaction and electoral bonds. While we have been encouraging donors to give donations by cheque, it has not been successful. In order to get clean money introduced in politics electoral bonds have been introduced. we would know how much every party has received through bonds. The bank will be notified for electoral bonds and they will know the total donations made to the party. This is a scheme we are willing to frame under the IT act and asked all political parties to makes suggestion. 

He said the current method benefits the ruling party but electoral bonds will benefits all other parties.

TMC members staged a walk out over disagreements over the finance bill.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took the stage for his rebuttal on the criticism of the Finance Bill.

The critique of the Finance Bill is based on the premise that India is a tax compliant society. Then they hypothesis is that everybody buy a property with a cheque, everybody buys a luxury ticket with a cheque.

Jaitley explained Section 132 as 'protection to whistleblowers'.

I’m surprised that what is intended to attacked the economic offender and protect the whistle-blower has been turned into a human rights issue.

In the Lok Sabha, Supriya Sule who is a member of Congress said that even though the government will justify that it is only in the implementation of the GST bill that fill face a hiccup, all the data available proves that if the GST data is leaked, it can cost the government.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh criticised the removal of the limit to political donations in the Rajya Sabha. He quoted letters between Nehru and Tata about the issue of funding Swatantra Party and the Congress and the Nehru’s intention to keep it transparent.

He also said that linking Aadhaar identity to a slew of welfare schemes has reduced the purpose of the Aadhaar. He also said that by pushing the amendments without a debate, the government has tried to reduce what the parliament stands for.

It is true that the Congress introduced Aadhaar but we introduced adhaar for eliminating fake identities. I feel that by introducing Aadhar for a whole set of activities...the intention of Aadhaar is lost. Only today it was in the news that MS Dhoni’s wife was upset with the IT department because all his personal details were leaked on the internet. This is not a finance bill this is a bill that reduces the parliament. It’s finance bill terrorism.

In an attempt to check the progress of the Finance Bill 2017 brought in by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the opposition on Wednesday plans to bring its own amendments to the much-debated bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Wednesday will also see a 7-hour-long debate in the Lok Sabha on the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill, which the government wants to roll out before 1 July. The BJP-led NDA government has so far enjoyed an easy run in the Budget session, enabling it to bring the important GST and Finance Bill.

Speaking on the floor of the house, Jaidev Galla, of the TDP said that Andhra Pradesh will lose 2000 crore annually once the GST kicks in. However, he expressed hope that the GST regime will prove benefecial for the country.

With the GST tax regime, the stage is being set for double digit growth in the country.

Expressing the AIADMK’s reservations over the proposed GST Bill, party leader Venkatesh Babu said that after the bill is implemented Tamil Nadu will permanently lose revenue. He estimated the loss to the TN exchequer at 9200 crores every year.

Slamming the Centre for the drawbacks in the proposed GST Bill, the opposition on Wednesday said there are a number of issues that need to be dealt with by the GST Council before the Bill can be rolled out. It also demanded a rethink of the anti-profiteering clause of GST as it is “far too draconian”.

Veerappa Moily, Leader, CongressWhat has been introduced today is not a gamechanger but only a baby step... In its current form, it will increase red-tapeism. GST will be a technological nightmare. Officials implementing it will suffer.

He further went on to question the Finance Minister over the ambiguities of the GST Bill. He added:

Categorisation of goods also needs to be done. For example, is Kitkat a chocolate or a biscuit? Is coconut oil considered as hair oil or cooking oil?

Also Read: GST Bill Proposes to Cut Cap on Tax Penalties

In a sharp response to the GST Bill pitch in Lok Sabha, the Congress’ Veerappa Moily blamed the BJP for delay in the implementation of the Bill. Speaking on the floor of the House, Moily said that “India has lost more than 12 lakh crore due to the delay in implementation of GST”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved four crucial GST related Bills in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. These bills which are crucial to the passage of the GST include the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill, 2017, Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) Bill, 2017, the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax (UTGST) BIll, 2017.

Speaking on the floor of the Lok Sabha, the FM explained the reasons behind bringing the GST. He also expressed hope that the centre and states can together take forward the GST legislation.

Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, IndiaThe passage of the GST will put an end to tax differences. Upon the passage of the GST, free movement of goods across country will be ensured... The GST council will be India’s first federal institution. The responsibility now lies on all of us to take GST forward. 

Also Read: Six Different Rates Will Make GST Too Complicated to Implement

(Photo: The Quint)

Lok Sabha will discuss the GST Bill on Wednesday. The Centre plans to roll out the Bill by 1 July hoping for favourable discussions on four crucial bills related to the GST which were tabled in the lower house by Arun Jaitley on Tuesday.

Describing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill as "revolutionary", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday expressed hope that all the GST related bills would be passed with consensus in the current budget session of Parliament.

Jaitley had introduced the GST Bill, 2017, along with three other related bills in the Lok Sabha, providing for a maximum GST rate of 40 percent on Tuesday.

Also Read: Aadhaar’s Backdoor Entry Into I-T Law and Its Implications

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. (Photo: PTI)

The Congress will move amendments to the GST bills on Wednesday, as it has concerns about some clauses in the bills and the manner of tabling those in Parliament, said a party leader on Tuesday.

Concerns were voiced in a strategy meeting of the Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha. The meeting was chaired by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who is said to have encouraged the MPs to play the role of a "constructive opposition".

Party sources said that Gandhi also told the members that the party should not be seen as a party against the GST.

Some senior Congress MPs also felt that the party should not be seen as one that is opposed to the proposed tax regime.

Sitaram Yechury , new CPI(M) General Secretary. (Photo: Reuters)

CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury will table an amendment in the Rajya Sabha which will disclose names of companies that make financial contributions to political parties mandatory. The amendment demanding transparency will demand specific clauses to ensure that firms cannot fund political parties using subsidiary or shell companies.

Yechury has argued that the absence of these provisions will see companies indulging in fudging accounts to seek undue income-tax benefits or route its funds through shell companies.

The Rajya Sabha will also see senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh move amendments to the Bill against granting 'sweeping powers' to income-tax officers to conduct search without sanction from a higher authority.

The Opposition has blamed the Modi government of trying to promote crony capitalism, creating fear by giving "unbridled power" to taxmen, trying to snoop into people's lives through increased use of Aadhaar through the provisions of the Finance Bill.

Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, including the Congress, SP, BSP and the Left, have also lambasted the government for not making enough provisions for creation of jobs through the rural employment guarantee scheme or to have farm loan waivers to check the growing number of farmers' suicide.

The Congress’ Kapil Sibal on Monday had questioned the move to use Aadhaar for filing tax returns, saying it amounted to snooping into people's lives and the prime minister and the finance minister had earlier raised concern over the use of the unique identity number when the BJP was in opposition.

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(With agency inputs.)