Govt may reconvene Parliament to pass GST Bill

The government today said it may reconvene Parliament's Monsoon Session to get key legislations, including the pending GST bill, passed, maintaining it has an "open mind" on amendments to reform measures even as it began consultations with leaders of opposition parties.

With the government having failed to pass its legislative business in the Monsoon Session which was a near washout, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venakiah Naidu met Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and appealed to all political parties to cooperate in smooth functioning of Parliament in the "larger national interest".

Naidu, who maintained that he has already consulted leaders of a number of parties on the issue, also expressed willingness to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi, if required to ensure a smooth running of Parliament.

"After discussions, the government shall, if required call the second part of Monsoon Session to pass key legislations. I appeal to all political parties to keep in mind the national interest. Parliament should function. There is no substitute to healthy debate in democracy.

"The bills like GST, real estate regulation bill and land bill are very important. The delay in passage of the GST bill will hamper the aspirations of people of India and in particular the dreams of the youth, who are thirsty for jobs," Naidu said at a press conference here.

Though the dates are yet to be finalised, the Monsoon Session is expected to be reconvened some time in September, sources said.

Keen to ensure the passage of the GST bill, the government had kept open the option of reconvening the session with the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs deciding not to recommend immediate prorogation of the Houses after they were adjourned sine die on July 13.

Appealing to the opposition parties to help and cooperate in passage of these bills, Naidu said the government is ready to discuss all issues and is committed to continuously reaching out to all parties to keep national interests above political interests.

Naidu's fervent appeal to parties to help the government pass the GST bill came in the backdrop of the rupee registering a sharp fall and the benchmark sensex witnessing the biggest single day decline yesterday.

Asking parties to think in national interest, he said, "This is even more important in the backdrop of the current financial situation across the globe." 

Replying to questions on Congress and some other parties pressing for amendments in the GST bill and whether the government is agreeable to them, Naidu said Parliament has to function even if these have to be approved.

"Amendments cannot be approved outside (Parliament). Even if you approve outside, they do not have any relevance. They have to be approved inside. The government will be going to Parliament with an open mind. Once the session is called, we will be able to sort out these issues," he said.

He also maintained that it was to the credit of the government and Finance Minister Arun Jaitely that most of the concerns expressed by different states -- manufacturing states, and non-manufacturing states were looked into and the minister took pains to talk to each and every state.

"He consulted almost the whole spectrum of political opinion, was agreeable on arriving at a broad consensus," he said.

Citing a study by international rating agency Moody's, Naidu said that India's growth story is running the risk of being jeopardised on account of slow progress on major legilsative reforms like GST and claimed that the legislation, if passed could add 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent to the GDP growth of the country.

While the Parliamentary Affairs Minister today met Kharge, Congress remained non-committal on its support saying it would first read the fine print.

"They (the government) want to call a special session and they are consulting all parties it seems. Unless we see what are the amended clauses or what is the agreement between the proposal of the standing committee and the government, unless we see the final bill, we cannot comment on that," Kharge said after the meeting.

Asked whether Kharge told him to talk to Rahul Gandhi and whether the government has plans to talk to the Congress President and the Congress Vice President, Naidu said that he is following the norms by meeting leaders of different parties of both Houses but has no problem in meeting either Sonia Gandhi or Rahul. 

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