Congress says Opposition forced govt to 'relent' on tax slabs, changes made with eye on Gujarat assembly polls
New Delhi: The Congress party on Friday said its opposition had forced the government to "relent" and slash tax slabs for 178 items to 18 percent and remarked that the "populous changes" were made with an eye on the Gujarat elections, though the Model Code of Conduct was in force in the state.
Earlier, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said his party will not allow the government to impose 'Gabbar Singh Tax' — Gandhi's acronym for GST or Goods and Services Tax.
"We will not allow the BJP to impose a Gabbar Singh Tax on India," Gandhi tweeted even as the GST Council's 23rd meeting was on.
The GST Council — which also has state finance ministers including those from Congress-ruled states on board — announced rate cuts on 177 goods on Friday.
"They cannot break the back of the small and medium businesses, crush the informal sector and destroy millions of jobs," Gandhi said.
"Modiji's 'Gabbar Singh Tax' is shrewdly designed to help his wealthy crony friends with big businesses, but hurting millions of small traders, MSME's and Informal Sector," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
'Might' is not always 'right'. Glad to see that the resolve of people and Congress party's opposition has finally forced the government to relent. We will continue to fight for making GST from 'flawed' to 'flawless'," he added.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "It is the worst example globally of a noble conception how quickly it can be distorted to a nullity, out of arrogance and obstinacy."
"I am sure there will be some populous changes because of Gujarat elections, but a GST Council advising is being held in the middle of the Model Code of Conduct operational in Gujarat. Himachal may have ended, but it is a very nice time to call a GST Council meeting in the middle of elections in Gujarat," he added.
He also asked where had the concept of one-tax one nation gone. "It is a seven-tax minimum. where is one nation when 40 per cent of the nation is kept out of GST in value terms. It is not a GST if you aggregate petroleum, realty, and alcohol," Singhvi said.
Slamming the government, Singhvi said, "The Modi government and Finance Ministry functions on the basis of shoot first, take aim later and think last. The sequence should be reversed — think, aim and then shoot."
Singhvi also said, "If the new regime is shoot, aim and think, India is in for a disaster. Neither the old regimes nor the new regimes can have shoot, aim and think. Any regime, Congress or non-Congress, BJP or non-BJP, India or global has to think, only then take careful aim and then shoot."
Gandhi in his tweets, ahead of the GST Council meeting, had made a few suggestions to improve the GST regime.
"Correct the fundamental flaw in GST architecture to give India a Genuine Simple Tax, Don't waste India's time with lip service, Acknowledge your incompetence, shed your arrogance and listen to the people of India.".
1. Correct the fundamental flaw in GST architecture to give India a Genuine Simple Tax.
2. Don’t waste India’s time with lip service.
3. Acknowledge your incompetence, shed your arrogance and listen to the people of India.
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 10, 2017
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday announced that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has decided to slash tax slabs for 178 items from 28 percent to 18 percent.