Modi said, GST is a big platform for transparency


The crucial Goods and Services tax (GST) Bill has been tabled in Lok Sabha today for approval after it was passed by the Rajya Sabha with some amendments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described GST as important step towards ending tax terrorism, reducing corruption and black money.

Modi said the GST will bring “freedom from tax terrorism” to the people of India. It will unite India and is a step towards a united country.

Live updates:

8.00 pm: Lok Sabha adjourned for the day.

7.59 pm: Bill as amended by the RS passed in the Lok Sabha.

7.57 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asks for Bill to be passed. Bill put to vote.

7.55 pm: Amendments 7 to 11 made by RS, as passed by LS put to division vote.

7.54 pm: Amendments 15 and 16 moved by N.K. Premachandran put to vote. Noes have it. Amendments negative.

7.52 pm: Amendments 4 to 6 put to division vote.

7.48 pm: Amendment 17 negative. Noes have it. MP asks for a division vote.

7. 46 pm: Amendment 3 made by RS put to vote. Ayes: 427. Noes: 9. Motion carried.

7.46 pm: Amendments 12 to 14 negative. Noes have it.

7.43 pm: Amendments 1 and 2 made by RS put to vote. Ayes 435. Nos: Nil. Motion carried. Amendment 1 and 2 adopted.

7.41 pm: Amendments made by RS taken into consideration.

7.40 pm: Constitutional Amendment Bill (122nd) is put to vote.

7.35 pm: AIADMK leader P.Venugopal says party not satisfied with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s clarifications. AIADMK stage a walk out.

7.15 pm: Mr. Jaitley clarifies questions and doubts from the MPs.

7.08 pm: The reason why corporate taxes are coming down world over, is that the highest amount of personal tax is coming from the wealthy. The money is for the corporates to reinvest surplus income. If you keep the corporate tax unduly high, the investors will look for places where there the tax rate is low to invest. Who created this idea? Not me. The Direct Tax Code brought in by the UPA government: Jaitley

7.07 pm: GST Council will make draft laws on CGST/IGST. It will then be determined whether it is a money bill or a financial bill: Jaitley

7.04 pm: Mr. Moily raised the question whether LS is the minor partner in this case. The constitution itself says there can be no taxation laws made unless this house sanctions said laws: Jaitley

7.02 pm: If you make the taxes 3/4 th for the State and 1/4th for the Centre and the quorum required is 3/4th, then you are effectively ousting the Centre from any discussion on taxation. I have repeatedly said: India is a union of states not a confederation of states. We need a strong Centre and strong states. This is not a reasonable suggestion: Jaitley

7.00 pm: On 80% of products, total Centre and State taxes go upto 27% now. We will rationalise this and reduce the tax rate: Jaitley

6.55 pm: This is not a ‘them vs us’ debate. There will be finance ministers from Congress, Trinamool, Left, Janata Dal. States will make calculations with their respective finance ministers. So why would the ministers want to put unnecessary burden on the people? asks Jaitley.

6.51 pm: Mr Thambidurai had asked – What happens after 5 years if there is a continuous loss of taxation? – Sir, we are moving towards a more efficient system that is going to plug leakages and corruptions. The base of taxation itself is going to expand, evasion is going to be plugged. The quantum of tax raised is going to increase. And additionally, the States are also going to be able to levy a tax on services. For eg, if TN is a manufacturing state, the service tax of Chennai will go into your kitty. So there is an additional tax. This fear is exaggerated: Jaitley

6.50 pm: Questions have been raised about sovereignity and authorities of the State, are we surrendering that? You are shifting to a new mechanism. You are moving away from the present system, where there are separate components. Once you take up the GST, the State and the Centre will have to interact. None of us are going to be surrendering our sovereignity, we are going to be pooling our sovereignity to address issues: Jaitley

6.47 pm: The entire standing committee felt that tax disputes between States was a political issue, so it should be resolved politically: Mr. Jaitley

6.45 pm: Mr. Jaitley reminds the opposition that from 2006 to May 2014, not even when Bill was in the Lok Sabha, there was no suggestion of putting a cap on RNR. “The one which you called a ‘flawed bill’ was based on the bill drafted during your (UPA) time.”

6.44 pm: AIADMK MP Thambidurai had raised the issue of compensation to the States, said five years of compensation was not enough.

6.42 pm: I want to thank all political parties and MPs for taking part in this discussion: FM Arun Jaitley

6.40 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley now speaks. He is responding to clarifications of MPs and giving his final reply before voting.

6.37 pm: PM Modi ends speech by congratulating the House for coming together to pass the Bill and says, “We will move forward step by step.”

6.35 pm: Even in the best of democracies, sometimes it’s difficult to pass finance Bills. But today, we pass this in one voice, we pass this together. It is our democracy and maturity of political leaders in India that we have been able to do this: PM Modi

6.33 pm: GST is a big platform for transparency, as everything will be online. Human interface between the tax payer and tax collector will become close to zero. Corruption will come down: PM

6.30 pm: The ‘kacha bill’ and ‘pakka bill’ system in our country has helped mobilise black money. GST will help put an end to this: PM Modi. Someone in the Opposition protests this statement and the PM jokes,”I was wondering why no one had stood up until now!”

6.27 pm: We say a lot about corruption but to eradicate corruption, it is important to strengthen our system as well: PM Modi. “We hope that the individual will always be good. If our systems are right, even the wrong person will be compelled to do the right thing,” says PM Modi.

6.26 pm: Due to the GST BIll, all the transactions will now be certified. There will be no scope for discrimination by banks, right from the milkman to the rich. All the things useful for the poor are out of the tax bracket: PM

6.25 pm: The biggest positive of the GST Bill is technology, due to which we will get real time data. Collection costs will be hugely saved: PM

6.23 pm: Our aim is “Economical and educational empowerment of the poor”. GST can help us achieve this aim: PM

6.22 pm: Through the FRMB Act, revenue and deficit of States are being balanced. For the first time, by law, we will fix the inflation: Modi

6.20 pm: GST will benefit mainly those states which are considered backward; it will address the problem of imbalanced development, says Modi. “It is true that consumer States will benefit more from GST but Centre will compensate manufacturing States in case of losses.”

6.19 pm: Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day; to take up Railway Convention Committee discussion tomorrow.

6.18 pm: The GST Bill will make the federal structure of the country stronger: PM Modi.

6.16 pm: All the necessary provisions have been included to ensure that the States are benefitted or compensated as per need: PM Modi

6.15 pm: Having been a CM, it is easier for me to address issues that CMs could have faced with the GST: Modi

6.15 pm: Rajya Sabha passes the Mental Health Care Bill.

6.11 pm: Optimal utilisation of man, machine and material is necessary for the growth of our economy. Right now, we are using only 40% of our capacity. This needs to change: PM Modi

6.10 pm: One of the biggest messages of GST is that the consumer is king. There were 7-11 taxes everyone had to process, now that comes to an end. Consumers & small businesses will gain tremendously. Small business will feel more secure with this. Small business is our strength: PM Modi

6.07 pm: Had met both Sonia ji and Manmohan ji. One is a LS MP and other RS MP. Question of treating LS as junior house does not arise: PM

6.06 pm: A trust between the Centre and States developed. This was not about a parliamentary majority. This is about consensus: PM

6.05 pm: GST is the new pearl in the necklace of ‘Bharat’. The Bill is the effort of all the States and Centre together: Modi

6.01 pm: This is not a victory of a particular party. It’s a victory of high democratic principles, victory of all political parties: Modi. “It doesn’t matter who initiated the Bill or who took care of the Bill. Krishna was born to one person, but raised by someone else,” Modi says in answer to Mr. Kharge’s statement.

6.00 pm: GST stands for Great Steps by Team India, Great Step towards Transformation, Great Steps towards Transparency: Modi

5.55 pm: PM Narendra Modi begins his speech in the Lok Sabha.

5.51 pm: When they were in the Opposition, Ms. Sushma Swaraj said, Not allowing parliament to function is a form of democracy. Mr. Arun Jaitley said, We are not here for a debate. Parliamentary obstruction is a form of democracy. So how is the Congress undemocratic? If you’re in the Opposition it’s one rule, if you’re in the ruling chair, it’s a different rule. Do not throw stones when you live in glass houses: Kharge

5.40 pm: We had asked for the removal of additional 1% tax but were not heard. The then Chief Economic Advisor also recommended same: Kharge

5.30 pm: Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha: BJP has a hand in the stalling of this Bill, but we are getting the blame! This Bill should have been passed two years ago. When you were the CM of Gujarat, the Gujarat finance minister said,”It is like cutting your both your hands and giving it to the centre.” Now what happened Prime Minister ji? How many hands have you cut off now? If this was your attitude, why is the Congress being blamed? Congress is the ‘janmdata’ for the GST Bill.

5.20 pm: In the Rajya Sabha, the Mental Health Care Bill is being put to vote, clause by clause and amendments first.

5.15 pm: Deepender Singh Hooda, INC MP from Rohtak: What is Congress’ fixation with the rate 18% – this is a question that has been asked repeatedly. 18% is not the final recommendation, it is a concessionary rate that we are sticking to.

The heart of the argument is the fact that the GST itself is a regressive tax. It puts more burden on the poor. If we look at the average ration around the world, two thirds of total taxes are direct taxes. Here, it is the other way around. That is the reason why are focusing on capping the GST. I would urge the government to also provide a comittment that they will ensure that the indirect taxes shrink. We believe BJP’s taxation polices are headed in the wrong direction. They have lowered corporate tax and did not pass on the benefits of lower oil prices, which would have benefited the common man.

I’m very happy with the provision for compensation for revenue losses.

5.05 pm: N.K. Premachandran, RSP MP from Kollam, Kerala: Happy that the GST Bill has finally become a reality. I congratulate the UPA govt and the Congress in particular for initiating the process.

Lok Sabha has become a minor partner in the law-making practice. It is not right. Consider the constructive proposals and amendments coming from the Opposition.

The GST Bill brings in accountability and transparency. It will certainly improve tax compliance.

5.00 pm: In the chair now is Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

5.00 pm: Dushyant Chautala, Indian National Lok Dal MP from Hisar: I would like to know what were the provisions that led to the exclusion of alcohol from GST.

Haryana is not a big state. We don’t consume much, unlike big states like Bihar, UP or Maharashtra. What happens if States fall short on revenue? It is quite possible that they might hike VAT on petrol or diesel and make up for it. This should be looked into.

4.50 pm: Heena Gavit, BJP MP from Nundurbar, Maharashtra: We are making history here. Our goverment has shown we are fully committed to the development of the country.

4.45 pm: Sirajuddin Ajmal, AIUDF MP from Barpeta Assam: It is too premature for all of us to criticise the Bill right now. I say we should give it a chance.

Mr. Ajmal also lists out several suggestions for the Bill.

4.30 pm: In the Chair now is Deputy Speaker, M. Thambi Durai.

4.20 pm: Tariq Anwar, Congress MP from Katihar: The GST Bill was stuck in the Rajya Sabha for a long time. If the BJP believed that the GST Bill is important for the country, why was the Bill stalled in the RS when the BJP was in the Opposition? We need to keep our word when we say that the Bill will reduce taxes and help the poor.

4.15 pm: Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha, DMK MP Kanimozhi raises questions about the Mental Health Care Bill: “India spends just 0.6% of its budget on mental healthcare. How does Ministry intend to implement the Bill?”

4.10 pm: Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy, YSR Congress MP from Nellore: Gross tax collection should end up being the same as the collection before GST implementation. In that case, how will the consumer end up paying less tax? We must ensure GST will be hassle free and free of human interference. That alone will help the ease of doing business.

I would like to remind the finance minister about special status for Andhra Pradesh. Central government has to immediately implement Special Status for A.P. It is my earnest request.

4.05 pm: Hukum Singh, currently in the chair, asks Karunakaran to wind up. “We are supporting the Bill but you’re not permitting us to speak. How are we to support the Bill otherwise?,” asks Karunakaran.

4 pm: CPI MP from Kasargod, Kerala, P. Karunakaran: When we discuss GST, we discuss the indirect tax that burdens the poor much more. The indirect taxes are about 62.3%, while direct taxes are 37.7%. You are managing and financing your projects through indirect taxes alone. Your government is enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor. I’m not saying there should be a cap, but indirect taxes should be reduced for the good of the people.

3:45 pm: A. P. Jithender Reddy, TRS MP from Mahbubnagar, Telangana: The amendments are most welcome. But we need to keep taxation low, but also protect the existing revenues of the Centre and State govt. Cumulative tax is about 30%, but tax evasion is marginally high. The more you lower your tax rate, the more your GDP will grow, as the number of people who don’t pay tax will lessen. With the GST, Telangana might lose nearly Rs. 500 crores from Tobacco products, as this money will be subsumed by the Centre.

3:30 pm: Tathagatha Satpathy of BJD says he supports the Bill. “Why not a system of evolving tax system where states collect taxes and pass it on to the Centre, asks Mr. Satpathy. When you are labelling a state consumer state, companies will not set up in these states. How can these states improve? Producer states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu will be losing revenue. How can they reinvest in infrastructure? We support the GST in-principle. But we have moved amendments too. I hope the government considers it, he says.

3:05 pm: Kalyan Banerjee of Trinamool Congress says his party supports the Bill. He wants the House to ensure that States’ revenues are not adversely affected. Clarify what is meant by full compensation? he asks. He also seeks exemption from dual GST of MSME. The Prime Minister should acknowledge in this House that it is because of the support of State Chief Ministers and State Finance Ministers the BIll is being passed in this House. He ends the speech asking a special package for Bengal!

3:00 pm: Dr. P. Venugopal of AIADMK speaks against the Bill. AIADMK is probably the only party to oppose the Bill. He says petroleum products should be kept out of the purview of the GST. He says the Bill disrupts the federal structure by giving Centre an upper hand. Manufacturing states will be affected. The Bill needs further amendments to protect the financial interests of the State.

2:50 pm: Rajya Sabha reconvenes. The House discusses Mental Health Care Bill. Vikas Mahatme, BJP MP and a renowned eye specialist speaks in favour of the Bill. The Bill will give mental health caregivers and counsellors respect. He says at least seven per cent of the population suffers from mental illness. The Bill will increase the number of quality psychiatrists and mental health counsellors.

2:52 pm: So how does Lok Sabha allot time for each Speaker? In simple terms, the members should give notice expressing their willingness to participate in the debate. The Speaker allots time based on the party strength. So if a member belonging to X party with a strength 100 in Lok Sabha, he gets 10 minutes. Then the member belonging to party Y with strength of 50 MPs will get 5 minutes. The Minister who moves the Bill can, however, speak as long as he wants.

2:45 pm: He quotes Mahabharata and says the King should collect taxes like how bee collects honey from flowers, without harming both bee and flower. With that Mr. Moily ends his speech. The Speaker alloted three Congress MPs to speak. But Mr. Moily spoke on behalf of the other two too.

2:40 pm: The ideal tax would be one tax for the nation. But this GST is having 38 taxes. How will you call it One Nation, One Tax? Mr. Moily asks. There should be a monitoring cell. Safeguard from inflation and corruption should be made. Next Bill should be a Finance Bill, not a Money Bill, he says.

2:30 pm: Mr. Moily refers to Parthasarathy Shome report and asks the govt to follow the report’s recommendations. The consumers, the common people, will be the losers if there is competitive profiteering attitude, he warns. Collect what you are collecting now. If you are planning to collect more that will be a disgrace to the country, he says. He insists that the rate should be capped at 18 per cent. This cap was prescribed by the CEA report.

2:21 pm: He takes a dig at ruling party for holding deliberation with Upper House members. You didn’t take us (Lok Sabha MPs) into confidence because you have the numbers, says Mr. Moily.

2:20 pm: Veerappa Moily of Congress speaks. He credits economic reforms to Manmohan Singh and Narsimha Rao. It was in 1991 the then Congress government opened up the markets and kickstarted liberalisation in the nation.

2:15 pm: After this amendment, we have to prepare three more laws. Two will be passed by Houses and one by respective States. Functional modalities and rate of taxation will be decided by the GST Council. States and Centre are not giving up the soverignity but we are pooling in the sovernity to enable one nation, one tax, says Mr. Jaitley.

2:00 pm: Lok Sabha reconvenes. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moves GST amendments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also present. He acknowledges the role of Rajya Sabha and various States

1:00 pm: Both Houses adjourned till 2 pm

12:26 pm: Rammohan Naidu Kinjarapu, Srikakulam MP, says the package given to Andhra Pradesh is too meagre. He claims only Rs. 50 crore has been allotted per district. He goes on to say the State was ‘unscientifically’ divided.

12:20 pm: Kirit Solanki urges government to establish a centre for “cotton excellence” so that farmers can rely on it for quality control.

12:15 pm: AIADMK MP V Ezhumalai raises the issue of Tamils being arrested by Andhra Pradesh suspecting them to be woodcutters smuggling red sanders. We are a free nation. We can travel anywhere. How can they pick up 32 people just because they were travelling to Andhra, he questions in Tamil.

12:10 pm: The CRPF camps lifted from Kokrajhar has emboldened Bodo militants to carry out violence. The BJP government should not have done it, says Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi.

12:09 pm: Naba Kumar Sarnia, Independent MP from Kokrajhar, speaks on the recent militant attack. He talks in Assamese.

12:06 pm: Andhra Pradesh MPs raise slogans seeking special status to Andhra Pradesh.

12:00 noon: Home Minister Rajnath Singh makes a statement in Lok Sabha on the Kokrajhar attack.

11:44 am: Mr. Kurien says it’s is a genuine concern. He asks Mr. Bajwa to share details with the government and Mr. Naqvi to take it up with the MEA.

11:42 am: Mr. Naqvi says Sushma Swaraj has been in touch with those govts. If the Honourable Member has a specific case, I urge him to give details. We’ll look into it.

11:40 am: P.S. Bajwa raises the issue of Indians kidnapped in Libya by Islamic State. Forty workers were kidnapped two years back. There are no whereabouts about them. One boy from Punjab came back and said all were killed, but MEA Sushma Swaraj said they are all alive. A girl doesn’t know whether her husband is alive or not. Parents want to know if their children are alive or not. PM has travelled several nations. He should visit Libya and Iraq too, says Mr. Bajwa.

11:30 am: Subramanian Swamy talks about building Ram temple in Ayodhya. The matter should be settled through the court. A day-to-day hearing should take place. “This matter should be discussed here so that harmony can be established in the country,” says Swamy.

11:29 am Santiuse Kujur, an Assam MP takes up the Kokrajhar killing. More MPs associate with him. The state government has neglected intelligence inputs, says Ripun Vora.

11:28 am: Pramod Tiwari of Congress points out at a report from Rajasthan, where cows in a gaushala was allegedly allowed to die. He criticises government for indulging in politics over protection of cows.

11:26 am: Mr. Sharma says to commemorate renowned poet Kabir, the government will slot a day in the calender for the national celebration of his birth anniversary. He says the government is also discussing whether to produce a coin with Kabir’s portrait engraved on it.

11:25 am: In Lok Sabha, question hour begins. Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma responds to questions.

11:20 am: Govt should stop using pellets, stop midnight knocks on houses, withdraw AFSPA from civilian areas and government should convene an all-party meet, says CPI’s D. Raja.

11:15 am: Many members want to discuss Kashmir, why not have a discussion tomorrow, asks Mr. Kurien. Since the concerned minister is not in the House, Mr. Naqvi says government is ready for discussion, but not today. The Chair asks him to come back with a date.

11:12 am: Sitaram Yechury asks what is happening? Thirty days in curfew. I haven’t seen such a thing in Independent India. The Home Minister assured the House that pellet guns will not be used. But it is still being used. Even Israel dosn’t use pellet guns against Palestinians. But India is using against Kashmiris, says Sitaram Yechury.

11:07 am: Mr. Azad says it’s been 30 days since normalcy has been disrupted in Kashmir. He says the issue is not mere law and order issue. It is a political, regional and national issue. He reiterates the Prime Minister should speak up. He urges the government to convene an all party meeting and send an all-party delegation to Kashmir.

11:04 am: Ghulam Nabi Azad sought debate on situation in Kashmir. His notice to suspend Question Hour was rejected. But P.J. Kurien allows Mr. Azad to speak on the issue in Zero Hour.

11:03 am: Ministers lay on table reports pertaining to their ministry.

11:00 am: Rajya Sabha proceedings begin.

Wefornews Bureau

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