The Congress on Friday demanded an all-party meeting on GST, alleging that the GST Council has been made dysfunctional and because of flaws, the government has to issue 869 notifications, 143 circulars, and 38 orders so far.
Addressing a press conference on five years of GST, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress chief spokesperson Jairam Ramesh alleged that because of the “faulty GST”, the economy has suffered and in place of six slabs, there should be only one.
Chidambaram said: “GST celebrates its 5th birthday. There is nothing really to celebrate. GST had serious birth defects. In the last five years, these defects have only become worse and all those touched by GST have been seriously injured. None more than the common people who consume goods and services and pay exorbitant taxes without knowing why the government has imposed the crushing tax burden upon them.”
He said that the Congress wants to make it absolutely clear that the GST that is in force today was not the GST envisaged by the UPA government.
“The GST that we have today is a complex web of many rates, conditions, exceptions and exemptions that will leave even an informed tax payer completely bewildered. Not all registered dealers are informed taxpayers, as a result, they are at the mercy of the tax-collector,” he said.
Chidambaram noted that there are six rates – 0.25, 3, 5, 12, 18, and 28 per cent, while, there are zero-rated and exempted goods. “Every tweak of the tax rates is another twist of the knife in the deep wounds of small businesses.”
“After 5 years of GST, there is no rationalisation in the number of returns to be filed. The law is so defective, that the government has been forced to issue hundreds of executive directions. In five years, the government has issued 869 notifications, 143 circulars and 38 orders! That is a change every second day! This is a GST that is flawed, defective and unstable.
“A flawed GST has led to large-scale destruction of the MSMEs, a sector that contributes upto 90 per cent of the jobs in the manufacturing sector. The only beneficiaries of the flawed GST are big businesses, chartered accountants and tax lawyers. The costs have far outweighed any gains,” he added.
The party said it rejects the current GST and, as promised in its election manifesto of 2019, will work toward the replacement of the current GST by GST 2.0 that will be a single, low rate.