After 12 long meetings on the GST implementation for months, the parliament on Wednesday has entered into a seven-hour long discussion where parties raised concerns on the unified tax regime aimed at making “One nation, one tax”.
It started when Congress MP, Veerappa Moily said that it was the BJP, which delayed the implementation of the GST during the Congress-led UPA regime. He said that the opposition of the GST then has caused an estimated loss of Rs 12 lakh crore to the people of the country.
“Who is to make up for this loss?” Moily asked.
He also pointed out the various discrepancies in the Bill, which included too many rates – seven, including the cesses. “This is not a game-changer as it is made out to be,” Moily said, and added that “one tax one nation is a myth”.
In fact, Moily’s criticised terming the Bill to be a “technological nightmare”. He said that the common man will have to file many forms, and asked Arun Jaitley to make compliance simpler. “The intentions can be good but you are bringing anarchy into the country, which will make the states and the Centre fight,” Moily said.
Others, too raised concerns over the implementation of the Bill. TDP MP, Jayadev Galla said that GST will cause Rs 2,000 crore of annual loss to the state of Andhra Pradesh. He asked the Modi-led government to look into the “pathetic economic condition” of the state, and compensate accordingly.
Biju Janta Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said that the implementation will increase “compliance cost”, and added that it would go against “ease of doing business”. He also pointed out that while the Finance Minister has more wisdom on GST, bringing the agri-economy under the unified tax regime will have an adverse impact, and that the BJP will be questioned, if not now, later.
Mahtab also alluded that the impact of the Bill will only be visible after a year, and not immediately. He said it is not known if the revenue will grow or fall. “GST hinges on revenue neutral rate. These are now fixed at 0, 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent. We will know only after the first year if it’s revenue neutral or not,” Mahtab said.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, too, raised concerns. TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee said that the chief minister supported GST in their election manifesto in 2016, ensuring full compensation to states under the tax regime. “The purpose of GST was to curtail inflation that has been done to a large extent,” Kalyan Banerjee said.
However, he listed his concerns. “It is imperative that sufficient time is given to build up the structures; the process of treatment of rates for different goods has to be informed to the industry; and preparation of GST network... this will be pivotal for the implementation of the tax system.”