A good and simple tax, but the Bill is neither good nor simple: Ramesh
The Congress party seems to be softening its stance on the Constitution Amendment Bill that would bring in the Goods & Services Tax.
Addressing mediapersons on Friday, Jairam Ramesh, senior Congress spokesperson and Upper House member, said: “GST is a good and simple tax. But this Bill is neither good nor simple.”
If there had been proper discussions, both the Congress and the government could have reached an agreement, he added.
Ramesh wondered why the Centre was reluctant to talk to leaders of the Opposition on the Bill and urged it to talk to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He said the Bill can be passed only with the support of the Congress.
Ramesh said the Congress has objections primarily on five issues: a cap on the GST rate at 18 per cent; addition of more items such as tobacco, alcohol and electricity in the GST list; doing away with the additional 1 per cent tax for manufacturing States, and compensation for States’ local governments.
He termed the 1 per cent additional tax for producing States as a bribe to Gujarat. Ramesh asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley why he is not holding talks with Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the Bill. “The Finance Minister hasn’t spent even an hour with Manmohan Singh. He should have taken his opinion on the Bill,” he said.
“The government’s Parliamentary strategy is not clever. It is clever by half. They should accommodate our concerns. They can agree on at least some of the crucial issues,” Ramesh said.
Trade body’s appeal
Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders sent letters to all opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, urging them to cooperate in the passage of the GST Bill.
“The roadblocks for GST are giving a dismal picture of one of the most important tax reforms in the country,” the confederation said in the letter.