'Govt trivialising parl with self-promotional spectacle on GST'

New Delhi


The Congress, which is boycotting the midnight GST roll-out event, on Friday said Parliament cannot be trivialised through festivities for the imposition of a "half baked" taxation proposal, being implemented by an "incompetent and insensitive government".

Criticism of the GST was unleashed by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala through a series of tweets and by senior party leader Anand Sharma, who spoke to newspersons - ahead of the GST roll-out event in Parliament.

Rahul Gandhi termed the midnight launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) "a self-promotional spectacle" of the Modi government.

"A reform that holds great potential is being rushed through in a half-baked way with a self-promotional spectacle #GSTTamasha," said Gandhi on Twitter.

"India deserves a GST rollout that does not put crores of its ordinary citizens, small businesses and traders through tremendous pain and anxiety," he added.

Gandhi also said: "Unlike demonetisation, GST is a reform that Congress has championed and backed from the beginning.

"But like demonetisation, GST is being executed by an incompetent and insensitive government without planning foresight and institutional readiness," he said.

Anand Sharma said the party is mindful of the sanctity of Parliament. "We cannot trivialise midnight sessions. The glorious tradition, history, the freedom struggle and nation's Independence should not be mixed up with festivities for the imposition of a taxation proposal," said Sharma.

"It will take a long time for tax to be perfected. There are four slabs and effectively five slabs, it is one of the most complicated GST," he added.

"The transactional cost and the burden will be very high on the small trade and on the small retailers. By excluding 45 per cent of the revenue base, we have made it one of the highest GST rates in the world. Those are the concerns which have not been addressed by the government," said Sharma.

Sharma also said the Centre should do its home work and listen to the states. "It is still half-baked. They should have at least had a trial run of GST network for minimum two months. The deadline is September 1," said Sharma.

"In a country where 300 crore returns have to be filed for GST every month, whatever samples or trial runs have been done are not adequate looking at the complicated filling up of forms," he added.

Surjewala said the BJP's cumbersome GST with five-tier tax structure (5 to 43 per cent) would hit at the livelihood of shopkeepers, traders and small business.

"BJP government has imposed 'highest ever GST rate in the world', unlike UPA's GST which put a cap of 18 per cent. No country has such high rates," said Surjewala on Twitter.

"Complicated and compliance cost burden defines BJP's GST. Each taxpayer to file 37 returns per year. In 36 states, it will be 1,224 returns," he added.

Surjewala also said the "spirit of GST bill of Congress was - 'single, simple, transparent, uncomplicated tax and reducing inflation'. Present GST is just the opposite."

"BJP's GST marred by IT unpreparedness. Tender for GST Network floated on June 15 with test period of August 2017-July 2018. PM remembers?" asked Surjewala.

"Roti, Kapda and Makaan will be hit by BJP's GST. GST on goods of mass consumption will hit the poor and middle class. It will be one more body blow to India's farmers and agricultural sector by excessive taxation," he added.

"BJP imposes GST of 18 per cent on manmade fibre. It hits textiles sector - micro and small manufacturers, traders, shopkeepers and helps big businesses," he added. - IANS