No breakthrough on GST in Modi-Congress meet, more talks soon

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the contentious Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill and though no breakthrough was achieved, they agreed to meet again to break the deadlock.

Meanwhile, Congress termed the meeting as constructive and hoped that the government would seriously reflect on their demands on GST. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had also been present, said: "The Congress party leaders put forth their position with regard to the three issues of the bill, which they felt are of concern to them. The history and background of the legislation and the government's response to three issues in detail was explained to them."

"The Congress party leaders would be discussing it within their own party and there would be after sometime a fresh contact between the government and them to discuss the subject further," he added. Jaitley said the government has also considered the position the opposition has taken. The prime minister had invited the Congress leaders to discuss issues pending before parliament, particularly a large amount of legislative business that has accumulated over the last two sessions.

"Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu will be in touch with the leaders of Congress party in both the houses of parliament to discuss each one of the specific legislations so that work could proceed in parliament next week," Jaitley said. Apart from Jaitley, Naidu was also present during the meeting. The Congress said that it has been a constructive engagement and it will be a work in progress.

"It has been agreed that we as Congress, after this meeting, have our own discussion and deliberations and the government will also seriously reflect on demands of the Congress, which is in the interest of the economy and interest of the people of India and after that once the deliberations are complete then there would be any further contact," senior party leader Anand Sharma told reporters.

"We hope that the government has registered our concerns and the merits of what we are saying," he added. Sharma said that the Congress was the original author of GST and its demand was neither political nor partisan.

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