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How and why govt is seeking Congress support on GST

 With Parliament session set to start on July 18, the government has stepped on the gas on its outreach to the Congress, which remains the single biggest obstacle in the introduction of the landmark Goods and Services Tax or GST Bill.

The monsoon session ends on August 12 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has placed the reform at the top of his government’s agenda.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to meet with Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma from the Congress to reach a compromise.

That appointment comes after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar reached out to Mr Azad and Mr Sharma, who lead the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority despite recent victories in some state elections, and the Congress still has the maximum members.

The two sides seem to have expressed the willingness to accommodate each other’s stand.

The GST would create a unified marketplace of a billion consumers by replacing an unwieldy network of central and state taxes with a single levy.

The Congress also wants the government to scrap a proposed 1 percent additional levy on the cross-border transport of goods – a move designed to compensate states that are skewed towards manufacturing.  

The Congress’ third big demand is that the Finance Minister enlarge the powers of a council to resolve disputes on revenue-sharing between states.

 

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