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Pranab seeks support for GST after 3rd draft; bill this session
Fri, 11 Feb 2011 21:53:46 GMT
NEW DELHI: The government will introduce the Constitution amendment bill seeking to reform the country's indirect tax regime in the budget session of Parliament, a move that brightens the prospects of rolling out the Goods and Services Tax, or GST, from April 1.

A legislation could not be introduced earlier as many of the opposition ruled states had objected to the changes proposed by the Centre.

Although it is the prerogative of the government to introduce a Constitution amendment bill, the centre was keen to build a consensus before approaching the Parliament. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said it is time for action as a majority of the states has expressed support for early introduction of the bill.

"Today, I solicit your support to go ahead with the introduction of the draft amendment bill in the budget session of the Parliament," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told finance ministers of states on Friday.

The landmark reform seeks to create an integrated national market for goods and services by replacing a plethora of indirect taxes, levied by the centre and states, with a single levy.

The fate of the bill will depend on whether the government is able to build a consensus in the Parliament as some states ruled by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are still maintaining their tough posture.

"The central (BJP) leadership will have to take a view in the Parliament," said Sushil Modi, deputy chief minister and finance minister of Bihar.

Madhya Pradesh finance minister Raghavji declared that the draft was not acceptable. A constitution amendment needs to be endorsed by a two-third majority in the Parliament and at least 15 state assemblies.

"Some states have opposed the fresh draft but 16 out of 25 states have expressed their support," said an official who had attended the meeting.

The centre has come out with a fresh draft of the proposed constitution amendment bill to address concerns of the states after the earlier two failed to satisfy them.

"Convergence is improving (on the draft)," said Asim Dasgupta, West Bengal fiance minister and the chairman of the empowered committee.

In an attempt to break the logjam, Mukherjee had earlier reached out to leaders of various political parties seeking their support for the comprehensive reform.

The United Progressive Alliance government, that has drawn criticism from the industry, experts and analysts for a policy paralysis in the country, is attempting to push forth this landmark reform.
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