Cong’s state FMs to lead charge against GST

NEW DELHI: Four months after the launch of goods and services tax, the Congress is expected to launch a fresh offensive against the BJP by assembling finance ministers of states ruled by it to speak out against the adverse impact of the new indirect tax on small businesses and artisans.
The move comes ahead of the the first anniversary of demonetisation and amid a vocal criticism of note ban and GST by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. It has been a running theme in his election campaign in Gujarat, where several industry groups have been protesting. The GST Council is scheduled to meet later this week to revise several rules and rework rates on a host of products, especially those that attract 28% tax.
Rahul held a meeting of Congress general secretaries and state FMs where it was decided to list the loopholes in GST and present them to the GST Council. The meeting was attended by former PM Manmohan Singh and former FM P Chidambaram.
Sources said, on Monday, the state FMs will blame the Centre for the way the current GST regime is structured, in what is seen as a counter to PM Narendra Modi’s assertion that the decision was not his alone.
All along, the government has maintained that the GST Council, which comprises state FMs and is chaired by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, had taken decisions by consensus although the BJP had enough votes in the apex decision-making body to push through decisions.
“We had repeatedly highlighted the concerns at meetings but they were ignored. The impact is there for everyone to see,” the finance minister of a Congress-ruled state said, adding that several states had also warned about poor preparedness of the tax filing system, GST Network.
Sources said small businesses such as textiles, bicycles, handicrafts and those providing job work across sectors had been badly impacted by the new tax regime although the council had lower the rates from 18% in several cases to 5%. “When 90% taxpayers contribute only 10% of the tax, why burden them with so much compliance? Most of the small taxpayers don’t even know how to operate a computer and you have asked them to do everything online,” the state FM said.
The Centre have maintained that any tax reform of this magnitude was expected to face hiccups in the beginning, which would gradually settle down. In addition, sources said the government was responding swiftly to the challenges and removing glitches.
Source- Times of India.

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