P Chidambaram had said the BJP had obstructed GST for six years but never spelled out what the objections were while Congress had put its objections in writing.
NEW DELHI: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the Congress objections to the GST constitutional amendment bill were an “afterthought” as he rejected the points raised by former finance minister P Chidambaram.
The NDA has slammed the Congress for putting up roadblocks for the passage of the GST Bill and has cited the enormous damage that the economy will face due to the delay in implementation of the most ambitious indirect tax reform since independence.
“I don’t think it is any part of prudent politics for any party to put preconditions, particularly on a matter which involves fiscal relationship between the Centre and the states,” Jaitley told a news conference as he demolished the arguments of his predecessor.
Chidambaram had said on Thursday that the BJP had obstructed GST for six years but never spelled out what the objections were while Congress had put its objections in writing. The Congress has demanded that GST rate be capped at 18% or so, deletion of the provision which allows imposition of 1% additional levy and a dispute resolution body.
“Now, the first conditionality is that there must be a constitutional cap of 18%. Now, Mr Chidambaram’s proposal, as approved by him after the standing committee in 2013 nor the then finance minister’s proposal when he introduced the bill in 2013 had any such 18% cap. That’s clearly an afterthought,” Jaitley said.
He said in any case, fiscal limits needed flexibility depending on the economic situation. Jaitley also said the standing committee had clearly said that there should not be a dispute resolution body.
“As far as the dispute redressal authority is concerned, the standing committee unanimously recommended that we must not have a dispute resolution mechanism or authority,” Jaitley said.
“All Congress party members were privy to that report. Mr Chidambaram accepted that report in 2013 and then accepted the formula that disputes would be resolved in the GST Council which is one-third Centre voting powers and two-thirds states with a three-fourth majority required for any decision. So both these two conditions are contrary to what his own stand has been as finance minister,” the finance minister said.
He said the third condition of up to 1% additional tax was a compromise between the Centre and the states and all these three decisions are unanimous decisions of all the states to which even the Congress party states are privy. “So it is clear that these three conditions are an afterthought,” Jaitley said.