Jaitley Lashes at Congress for Stalling GST Bill

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Kolkata: Describing the passage of the stalled Goods and Services Tax Bill as a parameter to measure the maturity of India’s political system, union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday made a veiled attack on the Congress for “stalling the country’s progress”.

“The maturity of our political system is being tested. Not only the government in power but most regional parties also supported the GST move. But one political party wanted to use disruption as a tactic to prevent it – otherwise there would have been a consensus,” he said during an interactive event here organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

The minister termed the last session of parliament as “somewhat disappointing but reasonably educative” as the GST Bill could not be pushed through despite a consensus being build around it. “People will see reason and when they see reason this whole polarisation between an India which wants to grow and miniscule minority which wants to block… I hope it will instill some sense in those who want to block,” he said.

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 Comparing the bicameral legislative structure between India and Britain, Jaitley said since the upper house of parliament there is not elected, the House of Commons or the lower house can push its bills despite the House of Lords opposing it. However, since both the houses in Indian Parliament are elected – directly and indirectly – a single house’ diktat cannot evolve a Bill into an Act. The minister, nevertheless, expressed optimism about it.

 “I do hope as the world’s largest democracy we get out of this process of stalemate between directly and indirectly elected houses,” he said. The minister further blamed the former UPA government for stalling India’s growth alleging that the Congress-led regime adopted the policy of redistributing resources without increasing productivity.

“We had slowed down in the past few years because we tried alternate growth models,” Jaitley said adding the UPA growth model propaganda looked attractive “as a slogan” but could not be executed at the ground level. Jaitley, who also holds the portfolio of information and broadcasting, said consumer-centric states like West Bengal will benefit if GST is enforced.