Keep indirect taxes 'low, affordable' under GST: Cong to govt

Keep indirect taxes 'low, affordable' under GST: Cong to govt

The Congress today urged the government to keep indirect taxes under the new GST regime "low and affordable" so that these do not lead to rise in inflation which will hurt the poor the most.

The opposition party welcomed the four GST Bills and said it would not press for any amendment even though some of its members had proposed some changes.

Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda hoped the implementation of the GST legislation will lead to a "one nation, one tax" regime and will help in the growth of the country's economy and in creation of jobs.

"We have to make sure those indirect taxes which are what the GST regime is all about, are kept manageable, affordable and that they are not inflationary.

"Inflationary impact hurts the poor the most. Indirect taxes are fundamentally regressive and so we urge the government to pay attention to reducing taxes," he told reporters.

On the proposed amendments, Gowda said, "The amendments will not be pressed for in the interest of federal structure of the country."

He said this government has a "terrible record" when it comes to indirect taxation and it also has a record of saying that large number of people in India do not pay taxes.

The Congress leader hoped that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime would lead to a drop in the number of tax slabs in a time-bound manner.

Gowda said while the tax rates in India are routinely 18 per cent, but in the developed countries the tax rates are less than 17 per cent and in the emerging economies, these are on an average around 16.6 per cent.

"Why should Indian tax rates be 18 per cent and above...India would become a high tax economy which will only hurt the ability of the economic investment and economic growth will also be hindered," he said.

Talking about exclusion of real estate, petroleum products, alcohol and tobacco from the GST net, he said, "We urge the government to push forward negotiations in a time-bound manner to ensure that everything comes within the GST net. This is going to require a lot of efforts and convincing of states...we urge the government to do the right thing."

Expressing happiness that this unified market is being created within the country, he said there is concern about shifting of economic growth between states.

He hoped the government will ensure that it comes up with better and more timely mechanisms that will ensure that this disparity is actually redressed and reversed.

Gowda also hoped that during the transition period, the government will make sure that tax payers are enabled to participate in the GST regime in the smoothest possible manner.

"We are looking at elimination of inter-state check-posts and the smooth movement of traffic and freight between the states of India. We are looking forward to one market.

"This is what (former Finance Minister P) Chidambaram had promised more than a decade ago as part of the UPA's commitment towards GST. We are looking forward to GST becoming a tangible and impactful reality that helps India's growth rate grow even further," he said.

Gowda urged the government to ensure that enough and adequate measures are taken in time to make sure that people are not harassed due to unbridled powers given to tax authorities as part of amendments to the Finance Bill.

He said that if an individual or a company is penalised by tax authorities for software or technology-related problems in filing tax returns, it will be "harassment and tax terrorism".

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