New Delhi, Aug. 3 : Asserting that there can be no tax law in this country without a tax rate, former finance minister P.
Chidambaram on Wednesday said there can be a debate on whether the rate should be mentioned in the Constitutional Amendment Bill or in the subsequent legislations.
"We hope that before the debate ends, the Finance Minister will answer some of the questions raised by the opposition parties including mine.
We will also give the assurances that we have demanded. I only want to emphasize one aspect of the bill. There can be no tax law in this country without a tax rate," Chidambaram said. He said no tax law would be upheld by any court unless it mentions the tax rate. "I know of no law which can be called a tax law which imposes the tax which does not mention a rate. We can debate whether the rate should be mentioned in the Constitutional Amendment Bill or in the subsequent legislations," he added.
Chidambaram further stated that because of the views expressed by the Finance Ministers of the states on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and because the Congress Party recognized that it was difficult at this stage for the government to mention a rate in the Constitution Amendment Bill, the grand old party have deferred that demand.
"But I made it clear today that we expect that the demand will be addressed when the other bills are brought before Parliament.
I have also explained in great detail why the revenue neutral rate should be approximately 15-15.5 and why the standard rate should be 18 percent.
This is a regressive tax.an indirect tax," he added. He asserted that there is broad consensus among the opposition parties that a standard rate recommended by the Chief Economic Advisor's report of 18 percent would be appropriate.
Asserting that the GST would be non-inflationary, Chidambaram said it would be something which can be sold to the people of India and which would not encourage tax evasion.
"We have also demanded an assurance that the GST Bill and the IGST Bill should not be brought as a money bill.
Too often, this government has pushed through bills as money bills. Party after party has demanded that it should be brought as a financial bill and not as a money bill. If these assurances are forthcoming, I am sure the House would be inclined to pass the bill," he added.
Chidambaram earlier today said that the Congress was never opposed to the idea of the 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.
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.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley 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. Jaitley said India will be one economic marketplace after the passage of GST. The Rajya Sabha has taken up discussion on the One Hundred Twenty Second Constitution Amendment Bill, 2014, also known as the GST Bill.
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.