Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday hit out at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar for his views on goods and services tax (GST) bill and asked the opposition party to clarify if his argument of making alcohol cheaper was its view.
“If Mani’s blog is to be believed, Congress party’s position is to make alcohol cheaper so that people do not resort to ‘hooch’. Is this Congress party’s concept of a comprehensive GST that alcohol becomes cheaper? Is this among the basis for its opposition to the GST? I hope the Congress either clarifies its position or confirms Mani’s view,” Jaitley wrote in a blog.
The finance minister said in response to his blog ‘Dissent or Disruption – The Congress Party’s Position on GST’, he received a response through a blog ‘How Congress will block GST’ written by Aiyar.
“Since he was the leading dissenter on behalf of his party, I have no reason to doubt that he represents the views of the Indian National Congress,” he said, adding, “Vide this blog, he gives an interesting reasoning for blocking the GST. He claims that alcohol for human consumption is taxed at a very high rate by the state governments. He argues to avoid costly alcohol people resort to ‘hooch’. This results in revenue loss, malpractices and has even led to death of many people caught in the web of illicit liquor”.
Jaitley said he (Aiyar) believes that liquor should be brought within the GST instead of leaving it to the tax purview of the states so that it can be taxed at the constitutional limit of 18% that Congress proposes.