The Congress on Saturday demanded that petroleum products, real estate and electricity be brought under the GST's ambit, as it claimed that persistent pressure by it and its Vice President Rahul Gandhi had forced the GST Council and the BJP government to reduce tax rates on several items from 28 per cent.
The party also said that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Gabbar Singh Tax" (as Rahul Gandhi dubbed it) is shrewdly designed" to help his wealthy friends but hurts millions of small traders.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke "post-truths" after the GST Council meeting on Friday while the will of the people did partially prevail the government's "arrogance".
"Persistent pressure built by the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party forced the GST Council and the BJP Government to reduce taxes on items of daily usage being taxed under the 28 per cent bracket.
The political turmoil and widespread protests have made Modi Government extremely nervous and partially backtrack," he said.
"But people of India, particularly shopkeepers, traders, MSMEs, are distressed with the lopsided architecture, design and implementation mechanism of Modi ji's 'Gabbar Singh Tax'," he added.
The Congress, which has been demanding to constitutionally cap the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a maximum of 18 per cent, said that if electricity, petroleum, real estate are kept out, 50 per cent of total revenue stays out of GST ambit.
"This means that the Modi government can continue to fill its coffers with Rs 2,67,000 crore annually by its back-breaking dose of taxation on petrol and diesel," Surjewala said.
Seeking to reduce GST's "compliance burden", he said that complex process of form filing has brought businesses, trades and MSMEs to a grinding halt, "while GSTN continues to crash repeatedly".
Stressing the challenges being faced by textiles sector and agriculture sector, Surjewala said the GST Council had not addressed them "owing to the sheer ineptitude and amateurish handling of the biggest tax reform by BJP government".
He said textiles was second biggest employment generator after agriculture but continues to face deep stress owing to "distorted" duty structure, where fibre is taxed at 12 pe rcent, the end-product, i.e. fabric, attracts a tax of 5 per cent.
"This is threatening the livelihood and profitability of non-integrated textile players of man made fibre (70 pe rcent of total), while helping the big fish to make huge profits," Surjewala said, adding that this "gross discrimination" has not been corrected, jeopardising the livelihood of millions from Surat to Panipat and Ludhiana to Tirupur.
He also said agriculture sector was being taxed for the first time with tractor and all other agricultural implements (12 percent), tyres, tubes and transmission parts (18 per cent), pesticides (18 per cent), fertilisers (5 per cent) and cold storage 18 per cent.
"There is no relief to 62 crore people engaged in agriculture," he said.
He said implementation of TDS (Tax Deduction at Source) and TCS (Tax Collection at Source) remains postponed till March 31 next year, Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM) requiring the purchaser to deposit GST on purchase from a GST unregistered individual/entity also remains postponed for the period and 'E-Way Bill' concept has already been deferred till April next year.
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