GST anniversary: "Gamechanger" or "surgical strike"? Top leaders speak up
One year ago on this day, the country's tax regime underwent a drastic overhaul with the launch of the never-seen-before-in-India Goods and Services Tax (GST). For 365 days, BJP leaders kept hailing the "gamechanger," while the opposition slammed the "surgical strike" on the economy. On its anniversary, reactions got even more colorful. PM Modi also hinted at the GST regime's future today.
What is the Goods and Services Tax?
The GST is a uniform tax rate that integrates 17 different central and state taxes, including excise, VAT and service tax. Under it, all goods and services are taxed at one of the four fixed slabs: 5%, 12%, 18% or 28%. However, petroleum products, real estate and power still remain outside its scope. A primary aim was to increase tax-compliance to boost government revenue.
India's Finance Minister takes to Facebook to analyze GST's impact
On 'GST Day', Finance Minister Arun Jaitley published a Facebook note elaborating on its impact: thanks to GST, the indirect tax base is expanding, there is a seamless flow of goods and services, and 'Doing of Business' is simpler, he wrote. According to him, the "biggest success of the GST" was the GST Council, "India's first experience at cooperative-federalism based decision-making authority."
'Boosting formalization, enhancing productivity, benefitting small and medium enterprises'
PM Narendra Modi tweeted out details about GST's achievements, saying it had brought growth, simplicity and transparency. It is boosting formalization, enhancing productivity, furthering 'Ease of Doing Business' and benefitting small and medium enterprises, he wrote. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal lauded it for ushering in transparency, thanking "all political parties and leaders for their cooperation." BJP leaders popularized the hashtag #GSTforNewIndia.
But not all BJP leaders seem happy
2017 a "horror year" for the Indian economy: Ashok Gehlot
Unsurprisingly, Congress leaders took the chance to bash the regime. "The government did bad things in a big way - demonetisation - or big things in a bad way - GST," said P Chidambaram. Manish Tewari said Indians should hold two-minute silence today "in memory of Indian Economy": "A dynamic entity assassinated by Surgical strikes of Demonetisation,GST & chicanery wiping out growth & equity."
Congress comes up with a new acronym: 'Grossly Scary Tax'
Randeep Surjewala, meanwhile, came out with a new acronym: "GST completes one year at 12'o clock tonight, it remains 'Grossly Scary Tax' for millions of traders, shopkeepers & businessmen. No wonder GST's more popular description is 'Gabbar Singh Tax' then 'Genuine and Simple Tax'."
Though some other parties criticized GST, others iterated support
Other parties had mixed reactions. Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien iterated the party's stand on GST is consistent: "Support principle. Oppose unprepared implementation." According to Manish Sisodia of AAP, "the implementation of GST is a failure." AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP also slammed the BJP. "People don't have confidence in banks. GST has been a problem since its implementation."
Elsewhere, people marked the day in their own ways
Non-politicians had their own way of marking the day. The Lucknow Central Excise Office organized a special drive to spread awareness. Jewelers in Mumbai urged the government to sort out contentious issues, including a 3% GST on gold import for export purpose. On his part, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia praised the 31 states for passing the GST in "a record time of 1.5 months."
Modi rules out single tax rate under GST
On GST Day, Modi gave a vague idea of its future, ruling out a single tax rate which has been demanded by several quarters. A Mercedes and milk cannot have the same tax rate, especially in India where the majority is financially struggling, he said.