NEW DELHI: The ruling BJP was arrogant before the launch of GST but had recently mellowed down as it was facing a tough election in Gujarat, according to Congress state ministers.
“There was arrogance when the GST council started discussing the tax rates but things have changed now. The government is more receptive to our suggestions,” Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal said.
“There is no political expediency, we just want the betterment of the system,” he said.
Besides Badal, the Congress lined up two other state ministers, Krishna Gowda from Karnataka and Kamalakaran of Puducherry to corner the government on GST implementation ahead of the GST Council meeting on November 10 at Guwahati.
Gowda too said he noticed a change in the government’s attitude.
“Earlier we were told not a line would be changed but now they are listening to us and they have made some changes in the tax rates recently. It is good that state polls are here,” said Gowda.
“We are not here merely to pick holes in GST but we also want resolution of the issues that we are raising,” he said.
The Congress, however, said it will not give the government a blank cheque over the radical tax reform.
“The faulty implementation has pushed the country towards a blind alley. GST was done in hurry without preparedness. As a result trade has been disrupted and jobs have been lost,” said Badal.
Noting the upper slab of 28 percent GST was the highest in the world, the Punjab finance minister Badal said traders were bogged down by as many as 1032 returns they needed to file in a year. Further, there are around 3.5 crore invoices on the GST Network that can’t be matched.
“We will take up these issues strongly in the council as there is a sense of urgency,” said Badal.
“The government claimed that GST would boost the GDP by 2 percent but in five months what we see is a reverse,” Gowda said adding, “if the government claimed sole ownership of GST at its midnight launch, it should share the blame as well.”
The Congress state ministers pointed out that a declining tax collection over the past three months from Rs 56 lakh to Rs 40 lakh per month besides Rs 8000 cr as compensation to states showed the GST was suffering from several operational bottlenecks.