Lok Sabha Passes GST Bill, Modi Says It Will End 'Tax Terrorism'

All 443 members vote in favour

08/08/2016 9:05 PM IST | Updated 08/08/2016 10:28 PM IST
Adnan Abidi / Reuters

The Lok Sabha, on Monday, passed the Goods and Services Tax Bill with all 443 members voting in favour of the bill, ratifying last week's nod by Rajya Sabha members, who also unanimously passed the amendments to the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill.

However, AIADMK leader P.Venugopal staged a walk-out unhappy with the clarifications presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the bill.

On the question whether the amended bill will be a money bill or a financial bill, Jaitley said the GST Council will make draft laws on CGST/IGST, and only then it could be determined if the bill would be financial bill or money bill.

Congress leader Veerappa Moily stressed that a high GST tax rate would hurt the common man, and the bill should have enough safeguards to control inflation and corruption, asking the bill should be presented as a financial bill and not a money bill. It should also be capped at 18 per cent.

Jaitley reiterated that the final tax rate and various modalities will be worked out by the GST Council, adding the GST will pool the sovereignty of the Centre and the states in a "one nation, one tax" ethos. He also said that a high corporate taxes would mean that investors would look elsewhere.

Earlier, expressing gratitude to all parties for support, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described GST as a "crucial step" towards ending tax terrorism besides reducing corruption and black money and said the new regime of indirect taxation will make consumer the "king".

He also said the GST was akin to "great steps towards transformation" and "transparency" and represented "a great step by team India."

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He emphasised in Lok Sabha that the passage of the GST Constitution Amendment Bill by Parliament was not a victory of any party or government but was everybody's victory as it highlighted the success of the democratic ethos of the country.

Intervening in a debate on Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, Modi asserted that the GST will benefit mainly those states which are considered backward and address the problem of imbalanced development.

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He acknowledged that manufacturing states will suffer losses but said they will be compensated.

"August 8th marks a crucial step towards freedom from tax terrorism," the Prime Minister said, while recalling that this was the day in 1942 when Mahatma Gandhi had sounded the bugle of 'Quit India' which marked a major step towards the country's Independence.

"GST can't be seen as a victory of a party or government.

It is the victory for democratic ethos of India and a victory for everyone," he said, while noting that the measure was being supported by all parties, irrespective of different ideologies.

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GST is a blanket indirect tax that will subsume several indirect state and federal taxes such as value added tax (VAT) and excise duty, and different state taxes, central surcharges, entertainment tax, luxury tax and a slew of related levies by local bodies.

The GST bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in May last year, but had to be cleared again following key amendments approved in Rajya Sabha last week. It will also now have to be ratified by a majority of Indian states, who are also required to work with the Centre to form the GST Council that will finalise the nuts and bolts of the new tax, and various modalities.

With PTI inputs

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