NEW DELHI: The long-pending Goods and Services Tax Bill was back on the negotiating table on Tuesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi engaging with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa here and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley his state counterparts at a meet hosted by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.
In the 29-point memorandum submitted by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to the Prime Minister during their meeting at 7 RCR, GST featured prominently. Tamil Nadu wanted the Centre to incorporate certain changes in the bill, which it felt would erode the autonomy of states.
Jayalalithaa also demanded petroleum products be permanently off the GST list, so that the states have the right to fix fuel prices, one of the major revenue sources for states. The AIADMK’s support to the constitutional amendment bill which requires two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament is quite crucial.
The Prime Minister himself seemed all set to overcome the hurdles to push the long-pending tax reform bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament. The support of the AIADMK with 12 MPs and the TMC with equal numbers in the Rajya Sabha could make a difference.
It may help the NDA government offset the edge the Congress-led opposition has in the Upper House. More so if Bihar CM Nitish Kumar sticks to his earlier stance of support to the GST.
The Congress too seemed to have softened its stand to avoid isolation on a bill that was originally drafted by the UPA.