Congress FMs will force changes to GST: Chidambaram

Congress FMs will force changes to GST: Chidambaram
Seeking to put a Congress stamp on the changes to the GST, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said that representatives from party-ruled states will “force changes” to the indirect tax regime at the GST Council meeting in Guwahati.
Chidambaram said finance ministers from Congress-ruled states have written a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley exposing the “structural flaws in the design and implementation of the GST.
“Congress FMs letter to Mr Jaitley will set the tone for discussions in the GST Council today (Friday),” Chidambaram said in a series of Tweets.
He said a “panic-stricken government” had no option but to concede demands for change.
“Government can no longer duck these issues,” he said adding that the Gujarat elections had forced the government to heed advice of the opposition and experts on the flaws in the implementation of GST.
“Expect a shower of changes in GST rates from GST Council meeting today,” the senior Congress leader said.
Chidambaram accused the government of pushing the GST bill through the Rajya Sabha without a debate.
“Government avoided debate and voting in Rajya Sabha on GST Bills. Now, they cannot avoid a debate in public domain or in the GST Council,” he said.
Ahead of the GST Council meeting, Punjab, Karnataka and Puducherry, where the Congress is in power, had jointly voiced their reservations over glitches with the GST tax-filing network, demanding that real estate and petroleum products be brought under the new regime and the tax rate be kept at no more than 18%. 
Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said the Congress had earlier asked that the GST rate should not be more than 18%, but the Centre went ahead with the five tax rate slabs of 0, 5, 12, 18 and 28%.
He said the 28% tax slab was based on the premise that many luxury and sin goods should be taxed at a higher rate, but in realty “a lot of items of mass consumption were also in 28%”.
“Construction material such as tiles, bricks, cement, sanitaryware and taps were put in the 28% tax bracket, causing a lot of burden on individuals and home builders,” Gowda had said.

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