PM Narendra Modi can’t spend too long celebrating after pushing through India’s biggest reform since the 1990s: Economists say even more politically sensitive measures are still needed. After a decade of wrangling, the upper house of parliament on Wednesday night unanimously approved legislation to establish a nationwide goods-and-services tax known as GST. The move clears the biggest hurdle to unifying India’s 1.3 billion people into a single market for the first time by next year. Removing a jumble of taxes on interstate trade caps Modi’s push to make India more business-friendly since his landslide victory in 2014.
GST proved hard enough to pass even though most major parties broadly agreed on the concept soon after the Congress party-led government proposed it in 2006. Modi himself opposed it back when he led Gujarat state, then made a U-turn when he took national power. A frustrated and weakened Congress party then returned the favor by obstructing the bill. It finally passed after recent state elections increased the power of pro-GST parties.