Rajya Sabha to take up GST bill on Monday

The Constitution amendment bill for facilitating the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) and the bill to regulate real estate business are slated to come up in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, even as the business advisory committee of the Rajya Sabha has allocated time for six bills for discussion and passage.

There is now a greater chance of the proposed legislation on a unified sales tax regime getting nod of the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha, after a government-appointed panel backed a lower rate and simpler structure that the opposition Congress party too had demanded.

The Goods and Service Tax (GST) bill, which aims at creating a customs union for India's 1.2 billion people, is the biggest revenue shake-up since Independence in 1947.

Supporters say it will add up to two percentage points to economic growth by replacing multiple federal and state tax levies, a chaotic structure that inflates costs for businesses.

The measure tops Prime Minister Narendra Modi's legislative agenda.

The Congress party wants Modi to cap the rate of GST at less than 20 per cent, scrap a proposed state levy and create an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states.

In what appears to be backing for its position, a government-appointed panel suggested a standard GST rate of 17-18 per cent. It also backed scrapping a proposed 1 percent additional levy by states on the cross-border transport of goods.

The Rajya Sabha will see the introduction of ten bills as the third week of winter session that begins on Monday while the lowr house, Lok Sabha will take up six bills.

Government has proposed a heavy legislative agenda for consideration and passing a total of sixteen bills by the two houses of Parliament in the third week of current winter session. This includes four more bills in the Lok Sabha in addition to the two bills already listed and seven more in the Rajya Sabha wherein threebills are already listed.

GST bill and the real estate bill were on the list of government business in the Rajya Sabha during the week commencing Monday, as per the statement made by minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in the house on Friday.

The Business Advisory Committee of the Rajya Sabha has allotted a time of 4 hours for the GST bill and 2 hours for real estate bill. Select committees of the house have already submitted their reports on these two bills which are pending for further consideration and passing by the Rajya Sabha.

Legislative agenda for consideration and passing by the Lok Sabha include:

  • Further consideration and passing of the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salary and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2015 on which discussion has already begun;
  • The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (already listed);
  • The Indian Trusts (Amendment) Bill,2015;
  • The Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill,2015;
  • The Industries (Regulation and Development) Amendment Bill, 2015; and
  • Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 (after it is passed by Rajya Sabha);

In addition, discussion and voting on supplementary demands for grants (general) for 2015-16 and demands for excess grants (general) for 2012-13 is also proposed to be taken up in the Lok Sabha.

Legislative business proposed to be taken up in Rajya Sabha include:

  • Further consideration and passing of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, on which discussion has begun;
  • The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, as passÚd by Lok Sabha (already listed);
  • The Whistle Blower Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha (already listed);
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha;
  • The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 as passed by Lok Sabha and as reported by Select Committee of Rajya Sabha (GST Bill);
  • The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha;
  • The Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha;
  • The Repealing and Amending (Third) Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha;
  • The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, as reported by Select Committee of Rajya Sabha; and
  • The Child Labour (Protection and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.

Non-legislative business which could be taken up in Lok Sabha next week include discussion on drought situation in the country, price rise and India's relations with neighbouring countries, specifically the situation in Nepal and India-Nepal relations. These issues will also come up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha.

The discussion on Nepal situation has been converted from calling attention of the government to a short duration discussion as per the will of the Upper House on Friday.

Legislative business transacted so far during the current winter session was passing of two bills, namely, The Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and The Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was the lone bill to be introduced in the lower house while no new bill was introduced in the upper house.

Other business transacted so far include a two-day discussion on 'Commitment to the Constitution as part of the 125th Birth Anniversary of B R Ambedkar and adoption of resolutions unanimously by both the houses where in the members affirmed their commitment to the ideals and values of the Constitution and to build a strong republic.