GST (Goods and Services Tax) now stands for “Good Sense Triumphs”, said senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in the Rajya Sabha today. The GST Bill was tabled in the Upper house today for discussion, and the Modi government hopeful that the Bill will be passed today itself. “We welcome the government’s conciliatory tone on GST. We are happy that the provision of 1% additional levy has been scrapped. India is now ready to embrace the idea of GST,” Chidambaram said. However, Chidambaram cautioned that a “number of GST issues remain outstanding and need resolution”. “Congress party was never opposed to the idea of GST. We have been opposing the 2014 bill. Our party has been asking for a better bill than the 2014 version,” he said.
Chidambaram went on to say that certain sections of the new GST Bill are “clumsily drafted”. He vehemently appealed to the government that the standard rate of tax under GST should not exceed 18%. “I don’t buy the argument that states will lose revenue. If you are going to charge 24%, it beats the very purpose of the tax reform. It will be hugely inflationary, there is a world record on this, let me caution you on this,” he said. “Indirect taxes by nature are regressive. They hit poor more than the rich. World over, the idea is to keep them low,” he urged. “No tax law will survive judicial scrutiny without the rate being mentioned. Congress will campaign to the people to keep rate at 18%. If not in the Constitution Amendment Bill, the government must mention the rate in the GST bill,” Chidambaram added.
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Chidambaram also asked the government to strengthen the dispute resolution provision under GST. “It is important to establish dispute resolution mechanism before any dispute arises,” he said. “GST is supposed to be a more efficient tax. It is non-cascading in nature and therefore more people will comply,” he said while highlighting the benefits of the tax reform. “I also want the Finance Minister’s commitment the CGST & IGST bills will be brought as financial bills,” he added.