Congress leader P Chidambaram today said a “shower of changes” is expected from the GST Council meeting in Guwahati and the “panic-stricken” Modi government has no option but to change the new tax rates. The high-powered committee headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is meeting in the Assam city to discuss GST rates. Chidambaram said the government will be forced to heed the advice of the opposition and experts due to the Gujarat assembly elections next month. “Expect a shower of changes in GST rates from GST Council meeting today. Panic-stricken govt has no option but to concede demands for change. “Thanks to Gujarat elections, government forced to heed advice of Opposition and experts on flaws in implementation of GST,” he tweeted. Chidambaram said the letter from the finance ministers of Congress-ruled states to Jaitley will set the tone for discussions in the GST Council today. “Congress FMs letter exposes the structural flaws in the design and implementation of GST. Government can no longer duck these issues,” he said.
The Congress leader said the government had avoided debate and voting in Rajya Sabha on GST Bills but it cannot avoid a debate in the public domain or in the GST Council. “Congress FMs will force changes in GST Council meeting today. Agra, Surat, Tiruppur and other hub towns are watching,” he said. The finance ministers of Congress ruled states last week demanded a major overhaul of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), alleging that the tax reform measure had turned out to be a “big disappointment” due to its “poor” implementation. The finance ministers of the Congress-ruled Punjab and Karnataka, Manpreet Badal and Krishna Gowda, alleged that the country had “lost the opportunity” to bring tax reform and that there was “utter chaos and confusion”, forcing many businesses to shut down.
They also alleged that there was “poor implementation” with regard to GST’s concept, design, tax rates, exemptions, compliance requirement and technological preparedness. They said the party would demand reduction of tax rates for many items and raise other concerns of the business community in the Guwahati meeting of the GST Council.