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GST Bill cannot be passed without Congress support:
August, 20th 2015

With the government contemplating a special session of parliament over the GST Bill, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday said the economic measure cannot be passed without his party's support and sought four amendments.

Talking to reporters here, Ramesh said four amendments demanded by his party were "pro-consumer". The former union minister said the Congress was in favour of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "single-handedly" held it back when he was the chief minister of Gujarat during the rule of United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.

He said the GST was an indirect tax and an indirect tax, by definition, is not a progressive tax. "A direct tax is a progressive tax because the richer you are, the more you pay tax but in the case of an indirect tax, the poor man or the poor woman pays the same tax as a rich person, so it is not progressive

"Nobody stalled GST other than Modi," Ramesh said. He said the Congress wanted a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision which allows imposition of one percent tax by additional levy, an independent dispute resolution mechanism and compensation to panchayat and urban bodies for loss of revenue along with that to the states.

The GST Bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority and the Congress is the single-largest party. "This bill cannot go through in this form or amended form without support of the Congress," Ramesh said.

The government has been contemplating a special two-day session of parliament in the second week to September mainly to pass the bill. The bill could not be taken up in the monsoon session of parliament due to stalemate over the Congress demands for resignation of three Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.

The Congress had pressed for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who is facing Enforcement Directorate probe.

The party has also pressed for resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

Answering a query, Ramesh said the Congress was not getting isolated on the GST Bill and some other political parties were also opposed to the bill in its present form.
He said the GST was an indirect tax and an indirect tax, by definition, is not a progressive tax. "A direct tax is a progressive tax because the richer you are, the more you pay tax but in the case of an indirect tax, the poor man or the poor woman pays the same tax as a rich person, so it is not progressive," he said.

Asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's remarks that amendments suggested by the Congress were an "after thought", he said: "Politics is about thoughts and after thoughts."

"Narendra Modi's support (to GST) is also an after thought," he said. Ramesh said an expert on GST had said that it stands for goods and simple tax.

"Jaitley's GST (bill) is neither good nor simple," Ramesh said. He said that the Congress was keen to implement GST from April 1, 2010 and later from April 1, 2012 .

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