Winters bring on us lethargy and sloth, not even the best of us are spared. Considering this, it seems the Goods and Service Tax bill has been kept in the cold storage by a dysfunctional parliament that didn’t really seem to want to work this season.
The wavering stand of the opposition and its capricious approach towards the said bill has helped maintain a chill in the air, taking it miles away from the heat of discussion. It was back in 2000 that the Vajpayee government had set up a committee led by Asim Dasgupta to design a model for GST. Later, on February 28, 2006, P.Chidambaram the then finance minister heralded that he would implement GST by April 1, 2010. However, this could not materialise as the opposition pricked a needle to this bubble. It was in 2014 that consultations with the state heads under the aegis of Arun Jaitley successfully yielded a bill which was passed on 6th may 2015 by the Lok Sabha. The amendment is pivotal for not just the small and large scale industry but also the Aam Adami, being the end consumer of a product. The proposed alteration in the indirect tax regime shall render a uniform policy of taxation across the country, contrary to the imposition of tax by each state as convenient to it.
The said amendment will simplify the tax system and curb corruption to a large extent. A central board will be formed post its introduction, which shall be culpable to decide the rate of tax to be imposed and the share of each state in the revenue so earned. However, the rate of taxation shall not exceed a certain limit, which can only be altered by way of constitutional amendment. It is at this juncture that the parliament has hit a roadblock. The congress wants a threshold limit of 18% while the Govt is adamant on 20%. Although the difference seems to be meek, it is not, when the revenue of a gigantic nation like India is collected and then distributed among the tax kitty of states, the 2% difference creates a parity of lakhs of crores. Initially, the govt considered an opposition which was and is minimal in numbers, too innocuous to make a threat. However, subsequent elections across various states and the abysmal charge of promoting intolerance has adversely affected the political standing, so to say given it a knee-jerk.
The opposition banked on this note and has not only held the parliament hostage but also a government which was too arrogant to recognise it. Subsequently, the government through its Prime minister attempted a reconciliation which failed, as the opposition refused to pave the way for the bill citing a list of reasons. In order to maintain an upper hand, congress has pressed on issues and blown them out of proportion. In the national herald case, the High Court upheld trial court’s order to summon Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. The congress cried political vendetta and didn’t allow the parliament to function for days. Another time it was Lalit Modi from England who’s karma did not allow the parliament to function for days. Everything was taken up, from an important incident in Dadri to Aamir Khan’s wife wanting to leave India. They went all the way from discussing issues of national importance to the petty ones. Clearly, the chain of events reveal that the congress knows when to strike, but fails to realise that it needs to cover openings as well.
Whether it is obstinacy of the Government or irresponsibility of the opposition, which is holding a nation of 1.2 billion from growth is tough to point out. While it must be realised that it is the government sitting in the driver’s seat, with the onus to take this bill to the finish line through all roadblocks and barriers.
Submitted By Sushant Kareer.