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PM Modi Invites Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh to Discuss GST Bill

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to try and end the standoff on Goods and Services Tax or GST, the government’s most ambitious tax reform.

This is the first time that the prime minister is attempting to break the ice with the main opposition party. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress number two, has not been invited.

The Congress has repeatedly accused the government of failing to bring the opposition on board on what is being billed as the biggest tax reform since independence.

The Congress leaders listed the issues that they said the main opposition party would not compromise on – the 1% tax for manufacturers, the constitutional cap of 18 percent for GST rate and an independent dispute resolution mechanism for GST.

“Unless the government responds on this we will not compromise,” they said.

The government needs the Congress’ support to push the bill through the Rajya Sabha or Upper House, where it is in a minority.

It wants to implement GST by April 2016, but the deadline may be missed if Parliament does not pass the bill in the winter session.

The GST will create a single market in India after doing away with state levies and is expected to boost the economy.

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Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi