GST Bill In Winter Session Of Parliament; Arun Jaitley Reaches Out To Opposition

25/11/2015 8:54 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Arun Jaitley, India's finance minister, listens during an interview at his office in the North Block of the Central Secretariat building in New Delhi, India, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. Jaitley is open to meeting top opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, to resolve a parliamentary deadlock over sales tax reforms. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NEW DELHI -- With the winter session of the Parliament to begin tomorrow, finance minister Arun Jaitley has one objective — to get the Goods & Services Tax Bill rolling. The 62-year-old union minister has indicated his willingness to woo the Opposition, apparently even Rahul Gandhi, in a bid to break the stalemate on the tax reform bill.

"We are willing to speak to any of their leaders," Jaitley told Bloomberg News earlier this month, adding that it was "one of the most important reforms in India".

The Bill amends the Constitution to introduce the goods and services tax. It proposes that a council of ministers at the Centre as well as the state finance ministers will recommend rates of tax, period of levy of additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states etc. It was passed by the Lok Sabha in May this year, but the BJP government will have to convince the Opposition at the Rajya Sabha, where the party does not have a majority.

'Give And Take'

Members of the Congress party on Tuesday indicated that only a spirit of give and take can ensure the passage of key economic reform bills like the GST.

"Give and take is the essence of parliamentary democracy," Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told PTI. "It is not a one way traffic in which the Opposition supports all the measures irrespective of their deficiencies and government fails to amend them."

"We are ready to cooperate but if they want our cooperation, they will also have to reach out," was the refrain of the veteran Congress leader.

arun jaitley rahul gandhi

He said this in reply to the heavy legislative agenda the government has planned for the month-long session, including the key reform measure GST, which commences on November 26 and concludes on December 23.

Noting that the party would also reach out to other Opposition parties for greater floor coordination, he recalled that the Opposition unity in the last session had resulted in the government not proceeding ahead with the controversial land acquisition bill.

The Opposition wanted to take up a host of issues including growing intolerance, inflation, drought, floods and atrocities on Dalits and minorities, he said, adding that the Opposition expected that the government takes it into confidence to run Parliament smoothly.

Prime Minister's foreign tours and the investments generated from them is also one of the key issues the Congress would like to take up, Kharge said.

"We also expect full cooperation from the Speaker for smooth running of the House," Kharge said in the wake of reports that Sumitra Mahajan has written to members to ensure acceptable decorum in the House in the session.

(with PTI inputs)

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