New Delhi: The long-delayed GST Bill was taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday after the Speaker rejected the Opposition's demands to refer the key reform measure to a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
In the over half-and-hour procedural wrangle, Opposition members insisted that the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance as it was a new bill as opposed to the one brought by the UPA government.
Members of Congress, BJD, AIADMK and CPI-M slammed the government for “bypassing” Parliamentary Standing Committees by refusing to refer several bills to it.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's argument, which carried the day, was that if the GST Bill was sent back to the panel, it would deny the benefits to the states by another financial year as the deadline of April 1, 2016 will be “missed”.
He said the Standing Committee has already deliberated upon the measure for two-and-a-half years and barring a few points, there was a “broad consensus” in the empowered committee of state Finance Ministers on the provisions of the Bill.
Besides, he said, a sort of consensus has emerged between the Centre and the states through the empowered committee of state Finance Ministers.
Seeking to bring the Opposition on board, he said all Congress-ruled states have supported the bill and Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal and BJD-ruled Odisha would be the biggest beneficiaries from day one.
He appealed to the opposition parties to “rise above partisan” considerations as “no purpose will be served” by delaying the passage of the crucial bill as it would be the states which would suffer financially.
Jaitley said after GST, government proposed three more bills on the powers of the Centre and the states. GST Bill is a Constitution amendment bill which has to be ratified by at least 50 per cent of the state legislatures.
Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, who was in the Chair said B Mahtab had requested Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to send the bill to the standing committee as it was an altogether new measure.
He said Jaitley had requested the Speaker against referring it to the standing committee and she has accepted the government's request.