Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday opposed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and said the system of uniform tax is not right for a country like India and he is personally not in favour of it.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor claimed the GST is “highly complicated” and called for a need to simplify it so that traders and industrialists could pay taxes easily.
He said a few days back, the Centre imposed GST on (pre-packed and labelled items like) curd, buttermilk, wheat flour and rice and wondered if they will now impose the GST on air as well.
Addressing a gathering of traders and industrialists in Rajkot city of Gujarat, where the Assembly polls are due later this year, Kejriwal made five promises if the AAP is voted to power, including removal of the environment of fear and simplification of the GST administration at the state level.
People from various Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sectors joined the town hall meet organised by the AAP, with representatives raising the issues of complicated GST and unnecessary and unexpected hike in the GST by the Centre.
Kejriwal said, “GST is so complicated that a large number of small traders whom I know had to shut down their businesses as they were not able to fulfil the GST requirements.” “The uniform tax — same tax on same kind of things– is also not right. In our country, the economy of Gujarat and other states is different. Taxes can be different on the same thing in different states and a same thing may require tax there and not here. I am personally not in favour of the system,” the AAP leader said.
This entire complicated system needs to be simplified so that traders and industrialists can pay tax easily, he said.
Even before a tax system, there is a need to improve the economy so that businesses can run and employment is generated, he opined.
“If industry and shops do not run and the government asks for tax, then from where will people pay that tax?” he asked.
Kejriwal said 99 per cent of the traders want to pay their taxes with honesty, but they do not get the opportunity because of the complicated system.
“A few days back they imposed GST on curd, chhas (buttermilk), lassi, wheat flour, rice… God knows what else remains. Maybe now they will impose GST on air,” he said.
Kejriwal said he will implement a suggestion, given by a trader from the audience, about government hiring an expert for free advice to people on GST compliance so as to reduce the cost of compliance which the public has to bear.
As the AAP’s five guarantees to the trader community in Gujarat, Kejriwal promised removal of the environment of fear so that businessmen could work with courage and peace and contribute to the prosperity of the state and the country.
Kejriwal said his party, if voted to power in Gujarat, will also ensure that traders get proper respect and a corruption-free administration.
He also promised to clear all pending VAT and GST refunds within six months.
As far as the GST is concerned, the AAP leader said his government will try to get it simplified by talking to the Centre. At the state-level, he said, the AAP government would simplify it by making the GST administration pro-people.
The AAP would also make traders a partner in the government by forming a body comprising representatives from various Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sectors.
The government will implement all the issues raised by them as partners in governance, he said.
Kejriwal said that in Delhi, his government removed corruption and unnecessary expenses from the government which helped save a lot of money.
“The Delhi government now runs on surplus, as per the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report,” he said.
Kejriwal said that MSMEs are the backbone of the country’s economy, but unfortunately they are “most exploited”. The sector can also get cheaper electricity, he said.
Last week, the Delhi CM had promised up to 300 units of free electricity per month to the people of Gujarat if the AAP is voted to power.
He also targeted the ruling BJP and said its leaders only deliver speeches but never listen to the business community.
He said Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state BJP head CR Paatil might be listening to grievances raised by traders during the town hall in Rajkot on Tuesday and could possibly address those concerns.i
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