DAINIK NATION BUREAU
Buoyant after its recent victory in the Hindi heartland, the Congress on Tuesday laid out part of its economic agenda for the 2019 General Election, promising a fresh “Goods and Services Tax 2” and junking the current one, should it come to power.
It chose Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal to make the announcement. Tearing into the GST introduced by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, he said it was “beyond redemption” owing to flaws in its basic text and design.
“Patchwork can’t salvage it,” the Congress leader said, referring to the last meeting of the GST Council held on December 22 in which tax rates of several items were lowered. “It is blighted owing to lack of clarity and lack of technological preparedness. Stakeholders, including traders, were not consulted.”
Calling it the Centre’s “arrogance”, Manpreet claimed: “As a result, as soon as the GST was introduced, all hell broke loose, prompting the Congress to term it Gabbar Singh Tax.”
“India is the 161st country to introduce a GST-like arrangement. Our concern is if we had to copy, it should have been done with clear concepts,” he told mediapersons here.
Referring to the recent cut in tax rates, he took potshots at the government, saying: “Better late than never, the Modi government has, at last, seen sense in the consistent stance of the Congress.”
The last GST Council meeting was held in the backdrop of the huge revenue deficit of Rs 1.5 lakh crore per annum and frequent postponement of GST returns owing to inherent complexities.
Manpreet reiterated the demand for bringing petroleum and electricity within the GST ambit, arguing, “If the GST is about having ‘one nation, one tax’, such a large sector of the economy can’t be exempted.”the tribune