Arun Jaitley
Arun JaitleyReuters file

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday that he is optimistic of getting the crucial indirect tax legislation -- the Goods and Services Taxes (GST) Bill -- passed in the upcoming Budget session of Parliament with the help of the Congress.

"It (GST) is the important reform of UPA. If I had to credit the authorship of it, I have to give credit to them. Now, If the author turns against his own script, what do I make... I have reached out (and) I have spoken to them. I have explained to them and I hope they will see reason... (and) see the rationale behind passing GST," he said at an event, reported PTI.

He said that the Congress' allies are on board and therefore, the GOP also should rethink its stand on the GST Bill, described by him as a legislation that will pave the way for the country's "economic integration".

"The UPA allies like the RJD, the NCP and the JD-U are openly supporting it. I don't see a reason why they (Congress) should have a rethink on the Bill. If there is a discussion on a particular idea in the Bill, I am willing to discuss with them... certainly, we can't bound future generations to a flawed legislation."

A month ago, Jaitley had expressed similar optimism over getting support from the Congress for the GST Bill.  

"After all, it was a Bill brought by them (the Congress). They have done a volte-face for political reasons, but they should not be doing it indefinitely," Jaitley had said.

On fiscal consolidation, Jaitley said on Saturday that opinion is divided on whether to stick to the roadmap or relax it a bit by spending (to spur economic growth).

The Business Standard reported that "while, industry wants more spending, economists are sharply divided. Then, he said there is a third opinion on why to tie to any fiscal deficit target in a dynamic situation."

For FY2016, the fiscal deficit is 3.9% of the GDP.

A Reuters poll had indicated that an overwhelming majority of economists want Jaitley to postpone the 3.5% target for fiscal deficit for FY2017.

Some analysts say the need for relaxing the FY2017 target also arises from the need to implement the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations. The proposals are expected to cost the government Rs 1.02 lakh crore in the next fiscal. 

Jaitley also said that India should utilise the fall in crude oil and commodity prices to carry out "structural reforms".

"I think the first important thing that we have to do is to carry on structural reforms," he said at the event.

According to the finance minister, India has the potential to grow at about 8 to 9%, which also holds the key to end poverty.

Arun Jaitley is expected to present the Union Budget for the year 2016-17 on 29 February.