The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitutional Amendment Bill which the Lok Sabha had already approved last year. The exact rate of the tax will only be decided in the weeks or months ahead.
The legislation was approved by the Rajya Sabha with 203 votes in favour and none against, in the 243-member House. The bill was passed after a after a seven-hour debate.
The House was adjourned till 11 pm. The Deputy Speaker PJ Kurien urged the members and the press to get some food and return by 11 pm.
The main objective of the GST is to eliminate excessive taxation. GST is a uniform indirect tax levied on goods and services across a country. Many developed nations tax the manufacture, sale and consumption of goods using a single, comprehensive tax. The roadmap for implementation of GST will be announced tomorrow, said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.
"The GST bill will empower the states, will increase revenue of states as well as Centre. It'll ensure that there is 'no tax on tax' "finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday in the Lok Sabha.
It was the Congress-led UPA government that was the first one to table an iteration of the bill, which it did on 2011. It couldn't pass the bill then due to opposition disagreement. Then the BJP-led NDA tabled another version of the bill in 2014. That couldn't pass because this time, it faced disagreement on some of the provisions of the bill from its opposition, mainly the Congress party.
For this 2016 version of the bill, Union finance minister Jaitley held several rounds of consultations with opposition parties and state governments. His attempt was to bring everyone on board, because, notionally, most parties are in favour a single tax regime.
While the Congress party on Wednesday support the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill, it made it perfectly clear it will only approve a later GST 'rate' bill if that's decided by both Houses of Parliament, and not just the Lok Sabha. As well, the standard rate of GST should not exceed 18%, the Congress said today in the Rajya Sabha.
Earlier today, Jaitley thanked the Congress. "There has been major consensus building that has taken place. I am extremely thankful to all opposition parties especially Ghulam Nabi Azad (of the Congress," Jaitley said.
The Congres said it was grateful that the BJP acknowledged it was the Congress that first announced the GST.
"I'm glad FM acknowledged that it was UPA govt that first officially announced the intention to bring GST," the former finance minister P Chidambaram of the Congress said in the Rajya Sabha."Hope the finance minister will pass GST bill not on strength of numbers but in strength of his arguments," he added.
Source :  The Times Of India