The Rajya Sabha today passed the historic Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill without any amendments. The Lok Sabha had passed four key GST Bills on March 29 while rejecting amendments moved by the opposition.
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.
The GST is one of the most significant reforms since India opened its economy in the early 1990s that will harmonise a mosaic of state and central levies into a national sales tax.
Earlier on Wednesday, it was reported that the Congress was not inclined to move any amendments to the GST enabling bills in the Rajya Sabha before they are returned to the Lok Sabha. The Congress' top leadership discussed the issue at length and decided not to press or move any amendments in the four GST enabling bills.
It has been 14 years since the GST was first mooted, but forging a political consensus has been a bruising process, as the measure would curb the powers of Indian states. Now, state assemblies must approve a fifth bill before the new tax system can be rolled out.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has set July 1 as the launch date of GST. However, authorities have to still cover some ground before the tax comes into effect.
For example, a panel of central and state finance chiefs has agreed for tax rates, ranging from 5 to 28 percent, it has yet to decide which rates will apply to which categories of goods. Earlier, Jaitley told lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha the panel would finalise the rates for various categories of goods next month.
GST will subsume a host of indirect taxes levied by the Centre and states, including excise duty, VAT, service tax, entry, luxury and entertainment levies.
The government is set to roll out the GST from July 1. "We are ready for implementing it from July . The law is ready , the rules have been finalised and are in public domain and our IT infrastructure is ready," a Times of India report d Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia as saying.
(With inputs from Reuters)