15 July, New Delhi
Keen to ensure smooth conduct of monsoon session of parliament and passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accompanied Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Friday met Congress floor leaders in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma and sought to build a consensus on the long pending bill.
“We are trying to build consensus on GST,” Jaitley told the media after the meeting.
“We have discussed all points,” he said referring to some specific suggestions being made by Congress and added that once the parliament session begins on Monday (July 18), further discussions would be held to ensure the pending baill’s passage.
The government’s move to reach out to Congress is significant because the Narendra Modi government is more than keen to push its economic reforms agenda in the monsoon session. The government floor managers believe there is more or less consensus on the bill from the key regional parties like Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United and Samajwadi Party.
The GST bill passed by the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2015 is pending in Rajya Sabha since then following stiff opposition from Congress
In last two days, new Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has held separate telephonic talks with the Azad while Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also tried to reach out to the opposition party and spoke to Azad.
The government had initially planned to rollout the GST from April 1, 2016.
Apart from GST, a number of important bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha, including the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill 2016.