New delhi : The Goods and Service Tax (GST) as a single indirect tax across the country may not be implemented from April 1, 2016 as repeatedly announced by the central government as the Congress has refused to allow passage of the amended Constitution Amendment Bill for GST as cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said it was the Congress that had initiated a simple GST aimed at propelling economic growth by facilitating trade through GST Bill, 2011, but the changes slipped into it by Narendra Modi government undermine the very purpose of GST.
Noting that India would have been already reaping benefits of a common GST but for obdurate Parliamentary obstructionism followed by BJP, particularly by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley as then leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, he said the amended Bill cleared by the Union Cabinet is pitted with “compromises, exclusions and exceptions defeating the sole purpose of ensuring a common market through GST.”
Surjewala accused the Prime Minister of obstinacy and the BJP government of arrogance in not accepting even logical suggestions of the Congress that would have made GST a truly implementable and meaningful tax.
He said the Congress members in the Rajya Sabha select committee had given these suggestions on the basis of elaborate talks with various stake holders, including economists, sociologists and various state governments.
Explaining why the Congress is opposed to the GST Bill in the present form and why it will defeat its passage in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress leader said the very purpose of the GST will be defeated if it puts an unfair burden on the consumer in pursuance of higher revenue.
Its rates should be moderate and reasonable and therefore the Congress wanted to put a ceiling of 18% on GST in Section 246A of the Constitution.
Surjewala also expressed his party’s concern that the GST in the present form may render the grassroot democracy ineffective since the proposed law has nothing to offer to the local bodies which are bound to lose revenue with the implementation of the GST.