Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's 'Class' In Parliament Before GST Debate

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's 'Class' In Parliament Before GST Debate

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed speculation of a spike in the prices of goods and commodities.

New Delhi:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in what was described by the Speaker as "Arun ji's classroom", made a strong pitch for the GST or Goods and Services Tax in parliament today, opening a seven-hour debate on bills to enable India's biggest tax reform.

He called GST a unique experience "with shared sovereignty for the centre and states".

"Here we are legislating in the area where we have simultaneously conferred jurisdiction on both the Centre and states. GST council is India's first federal institution where the sovereignty of centre and states has been pooled together," Mr Jaitley said.

"It is incumbent on all of us to make sure this federal institution works," he urged, referring to the GST council that has central and state representatives.

The minister also dismissed speculation of a spike in the prices of goods and commodities after the GST roll-out. Tax rates, he said, would be kept at the current levels so as not to have any inflationary impact.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were present as the debate began in Lok Sabha on four supporting bills crucial to rolling out a unified tax regime from July 1.

The bills are the Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017 and the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017.

Mr Jaitley said all decisions on GST would be taken by the GST Council, reflecting the federal structure.

Speaking after Mr Jaitley, the Congress' Veerappa Moily listed gaps that he said his party wants addressed and commented, "I cannot call it a gamechanger, only a baby step forward."

After the bills are passed by the Lok Sabha, where the government has a big majority, they will go to the Rajya Sabha.

GST subsumes a slew of indirect taxes at the centre and in states. 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.

(With inputs from PTI)
 

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