New Delhi : A month-long winter session of Parliament has been advanced to be held from November 16 to December 16, primarily to expedite passage of the legislations for meeting the target of the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 1 and usher in a uniform indirect tax regime subsuming all central and state levies including excise, central and state sales tax and value-added tax (VAT).
The cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Thursday decided to advance the session also to start the budget session a month early in January to pass the budget by March-end for the next financial year that begins on April 1, putting an end to the vote-on-account year after year until Parliament puts its stamp on the budget for the year. The budget used to be usually presented only on the last working day of February, but the government decided to advance it to kick off the revenue mobilisation from April 1 as soon as the new GST comes into force.
Though Parliament passed the Constitution (122nd) Amendment Bill for GST in August and got it ratified by the state legislatures, it has to further clear the Central GST and Integrated GST bills for rolling out the new tax merging all existing indirect taxes levied by the Centre and the States. The two enabling Bills will specify the GST rates, exempted items and other aspects that are currently being deliberated by the GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the state finance ministers as its members.
The government may use the winter session of Parliament to give a push to its pending labour reforms, including the Labour Code on Wages that will amalgamate four laws on wages and empower the Centre to fix minimum wages across all sectors and the the Code on Industrial Relations to make retrenchment easier for firms employing up to 300 workers.
Unlike a smooth and productive monsoon session, the coming session may again witness the opposition’s onslaught on the government on the BJP trying to politicise the surgical strikes on the terrorists in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for political gains in elections.