New Delhi, Aug. 3 : The Rajya Sabha passed the long-standing 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill commonly known as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill Wednesday evening.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) members, however, walked out of the House before voting.
Congratulating members of all parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "On this truly historic occasion of the passage of the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha, I thank the leaders and members of all parties.
Our MPs must be congratulated for their path breaking decision to give India an indirect tax system for the 21st century." "We continue to work with all parties (and) states to introduce a system that benefits all Indians (and) promotes a vibrant (and) unified national market.
This reform will promote @makeinindia, help exports (and) thus boost employment while providing enhanced revenue," said the Prime Minister.
"I would like to add that GST will also be the best example of cooperative federalism. Together we will take India to new heights of progress," he added. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Sing congratulated Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the passage of the Bill.
"I congratulate @arunjaitley ji (and) @narendramodi ji for bringing in economic integration of India by introducing #GSTBill in the country," he tweeted.
" It is in true spirit of financial cooperative federalism (and) a definitive step towards #SabkaSathSabkaVikas.
The passage of #GSTBill concludes the process of political integration initiated by #SardarPatel by also bringing economic integration of India.
I salute the perseverance of Hon. PM @narendramodi ji (and) FM @arunjaitley ji in getting this watershed bill passed to finally achieve the objective of one India one market," Raman Singh stated in a series of tweets.
The legislation is aimed at bringing uniform tax regime in the country by subsuming state levies. Under it, a single rate of GST will replace Central Excise, State VAT, entertainment, entry and luxury taxes to ensure seamless transfer of goods and services.
Replying to over six hour long debate on the Bill, Jaitley said the government would try for the most reasonable rate for GST.
He said with GST, system would become more efficient and there would be no tax on tax and evasion would become more difficult.
He also dismissed the apprehension of members that the Centre would have veto power in the proposed GST Council, saying it would have only one third weightage in it.
Moving the Bill, Jaitley termed the legislation as one of the most significant tax reforms in the country's history.
He said the GST Bill would boost the economy, which is now in a critical stage and put in place a uniform market in the country.
Jaitley said the bill will enable a seamless country-wide transfer of goods besides empowering the Centre and the states to increase their revenues.
He said it would also bring down tax evasions and bring all transactions under the ambit of taxation. The Finance Minister said the GST would serve the interest of the federal system in the best possible manner.
Earlier, initiating the discussion, Congress leader P. Chidambaram demanded that the standard rate of GST should not exceed 18 percent as suggested by the Chief Economic Advisor.
He said his party would campaign across the country to garner support in favour of the standard rate. He said it is efficient, non-inflationary and not result in losses to the Centre and the state revenues and also be acceptable to people.
He warned that a rate higher than this would be inflationary, leading to tax evasion. Chidambaram also wanted a dispute resolution authority to take care of any possible disputes. He said the Congress wanted a capping of the GST rate in the bill itself so that it cannot be changed by executive whims.
Chidambaram urged the government to introduce GST and Integrated GST (IGST) bills as a Finance Bill and not as Money Bill for a proper discussion in both the Houses.
He said his party was never opposed to the idea of GST. He said in the earlier bill, there were too many flaws, and hence, the Congress did not support it. Chidambaram welcomed the government's decision of dropping the provision of one percent inter- state transaction tax in the bill.
Participating in the debate, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury urged the government to protect the right of states.
He said the tax rate of 24 percent would cripple most of the people of the country. On the issue of dispute redressal, Yechury said greater thought must be given to it and it must be spelt out more concretely.
He said the bills should be brought back as Finance Bill and not as a Money Bill..