New Delhi: The long-delayed GST Constitution bill was passed by Parliament today, marking a historic step for tax reforms which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said was “crucial” for ending tax terrorism besides reducing corruption and black money while making consumer the “king”.
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in May 2015, was taken up again by the Lower House to approve the changes made in it by the Rajya Sabha last week. The government had moved six official amendments, including scrapping of 1 per cent additional tax, to the bill which were approved by the Upper House.
After a six-hour debate, the Lower House passed the bill with all the 443 members present voting in favour after AIADMK members staged a walkout while opposing the measure.
Modi, while intervening in the debate, “humbly” thanked all parties for supporting the GST, saying it reflected “maturity” of the Indian democracy as such a crucial legislation was approved with consensus rather than on the basis of numbers.
He hailed it as a “great step by team India” that will help transform the economy, bring in transparency and bring in the system of “one country one tax”.
He emphasised that the passage of the 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.
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Jaitley, while replying to the debate, said the tax rate under the GST regime will be kept at “minimum workable rate” as no state government can annoy its people by having a higher rate. He said the rate will be decided by the GST Council.
He, however, virtually ruled out an assurance that the GST legislation will not be brought as Money Bill, a key demand of opposition Congress.
The bill will now have to be ratified by at least 16 of the 29 state assemblies, which the Prime Minister hoped would be done at the earliest.