Congress, government to have more talks on GST

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) The government and the Congress met on Monday in an effort to clear the logjam over the Goods and Services Tax bill and decided to hold further discussions on the issue of securing passage for the legislation during the ongoing winter session of parliament.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Vekaiah Naidu and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jyotirdatiya Scindia on the GST bill which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha as the government does not have majority in the house, sources said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also joined the discussion later, the sources said.

The sources said that after the hour-long meeting, the two sides decided to continue talks.

They said the next round of discussions would be held in the presence of Congress leader of the house Mallikarjun Kharge who was not present at the meeting on Monday.

Congress demands include a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision which allows imposition of one percent tax by additional levy and an independent dispute resolution mechanism.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh last month to break the logjam over the bill.

The bill intends to simplify the indirect tax regime in the country and broaden the tax base thus resulting in better tax-compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure.

Senior Congress leaders decided to hold a second meeting with the government to arrive at a decision on the bill.

Sources said the government had also reached out to Congress leaders over telephone on the GST bill prior to the meeting between the two sides.

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