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PM Modi hopeful of breakthrough on India’s biggest tax reform

STORY: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped of breakthrough on the much-awaited national sales tax reform, Goods and Services Tax (GST), as the budget session of Parliament resumed on Thursday (March 09).

Modi was confident that the bill will be passed as most states and regional parties supported it.

“I believe that the level of debate and dialogue will be high and will focus on matters that will benefit the poor. We also hope of a breakthrough on GST (Goods and Services Tax),” Modi told reporters before budget session resumed.

GST has missed several launch dates. Last Saturday (March 04), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the measure is on track for a rollout from July 1.

The long-awaited GST is hailed as India’s biggest tax overhaul since independence in 1947, which would replace a slew of federal and state levies, transforming Asia’s third largest economy into a single market for the first time.

Proposed tax rates range from 5 to 28 percent, with 12 percent and 18 percent being the standard rates. It has not been decided yet which tax rates will apply to which categories of goods.

Meanwhile, opposition parties said they would raise the issue of attacks against Indians in the US.

“We will raise the issue as it is an international matter and more importantly tens of thousands of our people work there and nearly 170,000 students are there. Parents over here are scared and we wish to know about the situation over there and that is why we want the government to put some light on the issue,” said a senior leader of India’s main opposition Congress party, Mallikarjun Kharge.

Late last month, an Indian engineer was shot dead in the Kansas state of the United States in a possible hate crime, sparking outrage in the country.

Adam Purinton, 51, a white U.S. Navy veteran has been charged with killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas in what federal authorities were investigating as a possible hate crime that shocked the victim’s home country.

At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star the gunman shouted “get out of my country” before shooting the Indian victims.

Purinton is also accused of wounding American Ian Grillot, 24, who was shot as he tried to intervene.

Kuchibhotla’s death has reportedly made Indians more fearful of seeing loved ones travel and work in the U.S. as some feel hate crime in the US is on the rise.

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