Ready to cooperate on GST, but want cap on tax: Congress

New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said his party is ready to “cooperate” with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, but his party has some “differences” and wants a cap on the tax.

“We (Congress) are ready to cooperate with the BJP over GST. But we have our differences. We want a cap on tax, and do not want the poor in the country to be taxed,” Gandhi told media outside the Parliament House.

Gandhi added that his party was the one which introduced GST draft legislation earlier.

Gandhi made the comments when he was asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul himself and Manmohan Singh to meet over tea on Friday evening, with the GST on the agenda.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said on Friday the central government is seeking a consensus on the issue of levy of one percent additional tax for the proposed goods and services tax (GST).

“There are many opinions on the one percent tax on GST…states have another perspective on this,” Sinha told reporters on the sidelines of an event here by the Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion.

“We have to find a consensus on this. The finance minister has said we are in continuous consultations, particularly with opposition parties and are willing to consider any reasonable suggections,” Sinha said, adding that the situation arrived at this point was the result of continuous discussions with states and other stakeholders.

The central government has set the target for GST implementation from April next year, but the bill is currently stuck in parliament, especially over the cabinet’s nod to some changes recommended by a parliamentary panel, notably an extra one percent levy to compensate the states for potential tax losses.

GST buoys markets; Sensex gains 92 points

 Efforts to get a key economic legislation passed during the winter session of parliament cheered the Indian equity markets during the mid-afternoon trade on Friday.

Initially, both the bellwether indices of the Indian equity markets opened on a higher note, supported by hopes of a stimulus package in European Union.

A better-than-expected roll-over rate after Thursday’s derivatives expiry also supported markets’ gains.

However, initial gains were capped over concerns regarding the output of the winter session of parliament and weakening rupee.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) gained 92 points or 0.35 percent.

Similarly, the wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) made gains during the mid-afternoon session. It was higher by 29 points or 0.36 percent at 7,912.30 points.

The S&P BSE Sensex, which opened at 26,003.20 points, was trading at 26,050.44 points (at 1.45 p.m.) — 92 points or 0.35 percent up from the previous day’s close at 25,958.63 points.

The Sensex so far has touched a high of 26,125.63 points and a low of 25,937.32 points during the intra-day trade.

Analysts said that markets made gains on the back of increased hopes that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will get passed during the winter session of parliament.

“Expectations that the government will be able to build consensus over the GST bill and get it passed supported markets’ gains,” Anand James, co-head, technical research desk with Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, told IANS.

The government needs to pass the GST bill in this session to meet the April 1, 2016, roll-out deadline.

“The reasonably good roll-over (numbers) after yesterday’s expiry added to the positive momentum which helped prices rise,” James added.

The better-than-expected roll-over rate during the derivatives expiry restored investors’ confidence.

The reasonably healthy roll-over rate was achieved despite the reduction in lot size in futures and options (F&O) segment by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

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