- Arun Jaitley says, 'confident of a consensus' on GST bills
- Congress' Veerappa Moily says government undermining Rajya Sabha
- To meet July 1 deadline, government must pass GST bills by April 12
Here are 10 latest developments on this big story:
"I congratulate countrymen on the GST Bill being passed. New year, new law, new India," Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted.
The bills passed on Wednesday are the Central GST bill, the Integrated GST bill, the Union Territories GST bill and the compensation law. After Parliament's nod, a state GST bill will be presented in state assemblies for their approval.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a strong pitch for a simple tax regime in the House, saying GST will make commodities "slightly cheaper".
To the opposition's objection to a GST with multiple rate slabs, the Finance Minister said, "If there are no multiple rates, it will become a highly regressive tax... Some goods are essential for the poor." To illustrate his point he said, "A BMW and Hawai chappal (slippers) can't have the same tax. What is the good, who uses it, matters."
The proposed GST rates range from five to 28 per cent, with 12 per cent and 18 per cent being the standard rates. It has not been decided yet which tax rates will apply to which categories of goods.
Speaking during the debate, the Congress' Veerappa Moily accused the BJP of costing India 12 lakh crores by opposing the reform when it was initiated by his party when it ruled at the centre. He criticised various provisions in the bills and said the BJP's effort was "not a game-changer, but only a baby step."
Mr Moily also accused the government of undermining the Rajya Sabha or Upper House. "The Upper House is the council of states, yet it has no right to discuss crucial bills. This is an assault on federal structure - I say that all members of the Rajya Sabha must resign," he said.
Because the four bills have been presented as "money bills", the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority, can only suggest changes. These will be brought back to the Lok Sabha, which can choose to accept or reject them.
The government has emphasised that it wants the GST bills to be passed in parliament with the consensus as was witnessed in August last year when a bill to amend the Constitution was passed to facilitate the launch of GST.
The one-nation one-tax regime is expected to boost the rate of economic growth by about 0.5 percentage points, broaden the revenue base and cut compliance cost for firms.