Debate on the GST is unlikely to end till a year or so elapses when the GST’s day of reckoning will arrive
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ill tomorrow’s dawn herald the VE-Day or the Doomsday of the biggest tax revolution in Independent India? Imagine the prospect of the variety of indirect taxes currently levied on the estimated 1.34 billion Indians being subsumed by one tax, albeit at different rates!
Sensing a bright business opportunity, several service providers have also engaged in Mission GST by offering liberal help with educational material and free software to those who will be engaged in the GST implementation.
It’s certainly a D-Day in the annals of Indian history. And, appropriately, it will be launched after a symbolic, sentimental replica of our first Prime Minister’s Tryst with Dynasty occasion speech on the midnight of August 14-15, 1947 in the Central Hall of our Parliament.
It’s mind boggling, yes, but the billion-rupee question is whether it will succeed or it will tumble into a tumbrel of a different kind of Revolution in France.
There is suspense in the air on the answer to the above question. Remember we are a democracy where there is so much latitude to liberty that, in Patna early last year, a court case was allowed to be filed, under IPC Section 367/34, against Ram and Laxman for exiling Sita!! And it was a lawyer (sic) who succeeded in getting it admitted by the chief judicial magistrate concerned!! That it was later thrown out —probably because of lack of evidence! — is a different matter. But that is what validates Amartya Sen’s book “The Argumentative Indian”.
That is why there are views and views on the GST scheme.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]here are the ubiquitous nay-sayers, with or without economic arguments, true or false. Some want higher taxes on certain, others want lower taxes on that very product. Some want equal rates of tax on all products — be it biscuits or beauty products, and some want zero tax on bidis while some want a higher tax on gold. All of them forget that the products and rates and slabs were evaluated closely by the GST Council comprising representatives of the Central Government and 30 Federal States/Union Territories, and that all decisions in that Council were taken by consensus — not by voting or by the authority of the GST Council’s chairman, the country’s Finance Minister.
“All States are going to grow but the poorer States will grow at a faster rate in terms of growth of revenue, which is not a bad thing.”
Then there are sections amidst us who are moaning for the traders. One such has been Sanjay Nirupam, the one-time loud-mouthed Shiv Sainik and now a senior motor-mouth of the Rahul Gandhi brigade in Mumbai.
Among the several juicy bytes, he gave recently to a major TV channel is his contention that the NDA government’s GST “has become very complicated now. Traders and service providers are required to fill three long forms every month.” He even forewarned us viewers about throngs of traders coming on the streets of the country in an expression of their difficulties of various kinds.
Not unexpectedly, it’s only the other day that the country’s Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhiya, told PTI those notions like the above are unfounded. He said that taxpayers need to file only one return every month, similar to what they have been doing so far. Further, he maintained that the new tax regime was not cumbersome or compliance-heavy. He claimed that eighty per cent of the businesses will have to simply file total turnover details in the returns because they are all B2C dealers or retailers. Return filing is easy, he said, and people need not worry about filing process.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]nd Nirupam, as well as many other critics, are apparently unaware of the “Mission GST” mode undertaken by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) all across the country. It has held several conferences and seminars in towns and cities; widespread training sessions have also been undertaken with the prime motive of ensuring that the smallest trader gets educated about the contents and compliances of GST. Most importantly, it has pointed out to the trading community the importance of digital, paperless technology. And, for its ‘Mission GST’, CAIT has chosen Tally Solutions Limited, Mastercard and HDFC Bank as its technology partners.
You can read for yourself the excellent work being done by CAIT at http://sourcingelectricals.net/2017/06/14/gst-preparedness-among-traders-major-challenge-cait-begins-mission-gst/
Sensing a bright business opportunity, several service providers have also engaged in Mission GST by offering liberal help with educational material and free software to those who will be engaged in the GST implementation. A serious look at the Internet postings of such firms will show how there are many which have joined to make it a success.
The meaningful optimists are in India Inc which told PTI just a few days ago that “GST has been finalized after a collaborative and consultative approach and we look forward to its introduction.” (The Indian Express, Mumbai Edition, Page 17, June 19, 2017)
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he overall rosy picture has come from V.S. Krishnan, an expert on GST. In an interview to “The Indian Express”, believed that “All States are going to grow but the poorer States will grow at a faster rate in terms of growth of revenue, which is not a bad thing.” And, believe it or not, he not only agreed that, with so many items of mass consumption being totally exempted from tax or limited to just 5%, their price would not rise but, instead, could lead to a deflationary situation.( http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/rollout-rates-indirect-tax-slab-gst-is-a-transformational-business-process-reform-all-companies-will-have-to-change-v-s-krishnan-4717615/)
Debate on the GST is unlikely to end until a year or so elapses when the GST’s day of reckoning will arrive. If it’s successful, the likes of Sanjay Nirupam will say “After all, it was the Congress idea” and that the country would have befitted three years earlier if Narendra Modi had not, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, opposed it so vehemently in 2013. And if the GST fails, this Congress brigade will say, “It was not the Congress idea which Modi implemented; he juggled with it and made it complicated so much as to make it a failure.”
Once again then, the Congress lie will be found out by those who take pains to read and to recall what they read. Thus, unknown or forgotten, are two facts:
The first is that it’s not the Congress which conceived the idea of the GST. It actually happened when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the country’s Prime Minister. Yes, it was he who conceived the GST idea although only an MA in Economics, and not a Harvard Business or Finance graduate like P.Chidambaram or a professional economist like Dr Manmohan Singh with his PhDs from Delhi, Oxford and Cambridge. Yes, the truth is that in 2000, the Vajpayee Government started a discussion on GST by setting up an empowered committee, headed by Asim Dasgupta, (Finance Minister, Government of West Bengal). The committee was given the task of designing the GST model and overseeing the IT back-end preparedness for its rollout. (http://www.gstindia.com/history-of-gst)
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he second fact is that Mr. Modi did not oppose the UPA II GST because it was against his or the BJP’s ideology. At the relevant Committee meeting in October 2013, Mr. Modi expressed his Government’s view through a Cabinet Minister of his. “The issues listed by him were revenue neutral rate, place of supply rules for goods and services, dual control, exemption, compensation, among others.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Gujarat-opposes-GST-regime/articleshow/24559119.cms
And now that his NDA Government’s Bill had included all his views, he pursued its conversion into a law that is now in our statute books.
Yes, the debate between the Sanjay Nirupam’s of the Congress and other political parties will continue till the GST’s day of reckoning comes along. And, perhaps, thereafter as well.
After all, we are all Amartya Sen’s argumentative Indians, aren’t we?
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
His freelancing career began in "The Times of India" with a sports article published when he was a month shy of 20 years of age. He was also a regular political affairs columnist first for rediff.com for five years or so and then shifted to sify.com. He also wrote extensively for niticentral.com "till it stopped publication."
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