The landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill is slated to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha next week as the government hopes to reach a consensus with the Congress, say media reports.
According to a report in The Economic Times, the Bill has been listed in the business next week though the Rajya Sabha website has not yet updated its list for Monday and Tuesday.
The report, citing government sources, said that finance minister Arun Jaitley is engaged in back channel negotiations with Congress leaders and the main opposition party has softened its stand.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has told Rajya Sabha that the bill will be taken up for discussion and passage next week.
The National Democratic Alliance government has been taking all steps possible to push the GST Bill in the current Parliament session, with the Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha setting aside five-and-half hours to debate the legislation.
Jaitley and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma on Tuesday had held meetings last week in order to reach a settlement.
The government also expects regional parties such as TMC and JDU to support the legislation.
Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal on Wednesday had said the Congress demand for capping the GST rate in Constitution is "not very practical", but the government is making a lot of effort to build consensus on GST.
"The government is making a lot of effort to build consensus on GST Bill. There are many Chief Ministers - UP, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar - they all want GST to come fast... We hope that Rajya Sabha will be able to pass the GST Bill in the next or third week of (monsoon session of) Parliament," Meghwal had said on the sidelines of an Assocham event.
The Congress, which originally mooted the GST in 2009 to replace all indirect taxes, has been demanding that the overall rate be capped at 18 percent and scrapping of an additional 1 per cent tax designed to compensate manufacturing states that fear losing revenue.
GST Bill, which intends to convert 29 states into a single market through a new indirect tax regime, was earlier planned to be introduced from April 1 this year, but the deadline was missed as the Bill to roll it out remains in a limbo in the Opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha.
The government has agreed to a five-hour debate on the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the current session. Regional party JDU has already expressed support for the legislation.
The Bill, which will help create a single national sales tax to replace several state and central levies, has already been approved by the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Upper House.