New Delhi, Aug. 3 : Former finance minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said that the Congress was never opposed to the idea of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), adding the grand old party did not support it as there were too many flaws in the earlier bill.
Chidambaram said the former UPA regime tried to pass the GST Bill, between 2011-14, with the opposition support but failed.
"In the last 18 months, the government tried passing GST without support but failed. The 2014 bill was opposed, the idea wasn't because we felt it was possible to have a more perfect bill," said Chidambaram.
"There is no such thing as a perfect bill. But when we found there were too many flaws in it, we decided that we cannot support the bill," he added.
Chidambaram, who was speaking after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha, welcomed the government's decision of dropping the provision of one percent inter-state transaction tax in the bill.
The Congress leader said he hopes the Finance Minister will pass the GST Bill not on strength of numbers but in strength of his arguments.
"I'm glad the Finance Minister acknowledged that it was the UPA government that first officially announced the intention to bring GST," he added.
The Finance Minister earlier said the GST Bill is one of the most important tax reforms in India's history, adding a reform like this legislation cannot be passed on partisan consensus.
Jaitley said the select committee made some suggestions and the government decided to make some radical changes.
The Finance Minister said the states and the Centre need to work together on the bill. "Two-third of the voting power in the GST council belongs to states, while one-third belongs to the Centre," he said.
Jaitley said India will be one economic marketplace after the passage of GST. "The GST Bill will empower the states. It will increase revenue of states as well as Centre. It will ensure that there is "no tax on tax"," said Jaitley. "With a uniform tax rate, we will be able to bring about seamless transfer of goods and services across country," he added.
The Finance Minister thanked all opposition parties, especially Leader of Opposition Gulam Nabi Azad, for supporting the government on the issue.
The Rajya Sabha has taken up discussion on the One Hundred Twenty Second Constitution Amendment Bill, 2014, also known as the GST Bill.
When the House re-assembled post lunch, Jaitley moved the bill for consideration and passage. The BJP and Congress have issued a whip to all its members in the Rajya Sabha asking them to be present in the House for the next three days.