After Manmohan's statesmanship, Congress pours scorn on GST

After Manmohan's statesmanship, Congress pours scorn on GST

A day after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played the statesman to ensure the smooth passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST) in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress on Friday poured scorn dubbing it anti-farmer and anti-business.

Singh had advised party colleagues Jairam Ramesh and Vivek Tankha against moving amendments to GST-related bills that were put to vote in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday evening.

The former prime minister is believed to be upset at the scathing criticism of the GST initiative by the Congress leaders during the debate in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, saying it would send a wrong message.

However, at the AICC briefing on Friday, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal tore into the GST Bill saying instead of ease of doing business, the indirect tax reform could lead to cease in business activity.

“The business community will be under the watchful gaze of the taxman,” Sibal said, arguing that GST could lead to tax notices being slapped on businesses “and then extortion would begin”. Sibal said GST was also anti-farmer as it sought to bring farmers under its purview by exempting only farm income from the tax net.

“But if the farmer does some small business like running a shop or renting his tractor, he would come under the purview of GST,” Sibal said, adding that the poor farmer may have to run from pillar to post to fill numerous forms to make his small venture GST compliant.

“Not at all,” Sibal shot back when asked whether Singh’s counsel and Rahul’s efforts to galvanise the Opposition sent conflicting messages about the Congress approach to the GST.

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