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Monsoon session from July 18, Government confident of GST passage

Government today asserted it has 'enough' support for passage of the GST bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament that will commence from July 18 till August 12.

Monsoon session from July 18, Government confident of GST passage
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi

After a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh that recommended the schedule for the session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters that the session could also be extended or curtailed by two-three days depending on requirement.

The session will have 20 working days for now.

Emphasising that the GST bill is in the larger interest of the country, Naidu said, "We have a wider support and we have enough numbers for GST but we would like to have all parties on board because it will have an effect on states."

He said that the government wants to get the bill passed by consensus and is making efforts in that direction but asserted that even if consensus is not there, "we must get it approved in this session".

He said that voting on the bill will be the last option, suggesting that the government would like to avoid any trial of strength on this issue and will strive to take all parties along.

However, since it is a Constitutional Amendment Bill, voting will have to take place.

Replying to questions on whether Government will step up efforts to bring Congress on board, which has been opposing the bill on some conditions, he said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is ready to hold further discussions with all parties including Congress.

Naidu also referred to the recent interview of the Prime Minister in which he sought the cooperation of Opposition parties for passing GST.

In the meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Naidu that she was ready for a discussion on the recent foreign visits of the Prime Minister in view of issues like India's membership to NSG, if members want it.

Rajnath Singh, who chaired the meet, pushed for early passage of Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill while Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said there was a need for an early passage of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill. Both are pending in Parliament.

Naidu said besides GST, the government will push for passage of three bills replacing ordinances on Combined Entrance Exam for medical and dental colleges as well as the one seeking amendments to the Enemy Property Act.

Naidu said while 56 bills are pending - 11 in Lok Sabha and 45 in Rajya Sabha, he has also asked ministries to come up with at least 25 new bills.

The ministries will have to give notice for bringing the new bills by July 3.

Naidu said once Parliament passes GST, the Indian economy will grow further.

"Keeping that in mind I appeal to all political parties to cooperate in passage of the bill. We have spent enough time. We have done enough study. There have been detailed discussions with state finance ministers...concerns have been addressed," he said.

Claiming that the government has been continuously engaging with all parties including Congress on the issue, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said, "We will continue to have a dialogue with them also and try to convince them that House should be in order, which is a must to pass a constitutional amendment bill."

He said political parties, while formulating their stand, will keep the ground realities in mind. "That is my hope as Parliamentary Affairs Minister... I hope it should get approved in the next session of Parliament," he said.

The contentious Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-second Amendment) Bill, 2014, known as the GST Bill was moved in the Upper House in August last year after being passed by Lok Sabha.

The government is hopeful of the passage of the GST bill in this session amid indications that a number of regional parties have broken ranks with Congress on the issue and are willing to extend their support to this crucial economic reform measure.

After the CCPA, Naidu also held a separate meeting with Union ministers during which he asked them to submit their bill proposals by July 3, a fortnight before the session begins.

The session comes at a time when the ruling BJP's morale is high after its maiden victory in Assam Assembly polls and its performance in Kerala and West Bengal elections.

Another key bill is the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was moved in December last year but the discussion on it had remained inconclusive. In the Budget session this year, this bill could not be taken up.

In Lok Sabha, important bills pending include the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015.

The last few sessions of Parliament have seen sparrings between the government and the opposition even though the second part of the Budget session recorded a relative improvement as far the completion of government business was concerned.

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