The Congress today accused the BJP-led NDA government of wasting an opportunity to put India on the growth path through Goods and Service Tax (GST), which it said should be a "good and simple tax" rather than a "grossly scary tax".
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said GST had failed to provide any real relief to the common man or to the farming and textile sectors, the biggest generators of employment in the country.
"GST should not become a 'grossly scary tax'. It should be a 'good and simple tax'," Surjewala told reporters.
Labelling the government "amateurish and vision-less" and "drunk with arrogance", he said it was wasting a golden opportunity to put India on a growth trajectory due to its "ineptitude and lack of comprehension of issues".
The stark truth is that the Indian GST rate is now the highest in the world and the 'one nation, one tax' has become 'one nation, seven taxes' and more, the Congress leader added.
Where was the real relief for the people, Surjewala asked, and added that people wanted substance, not soothing words.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had "forgotten" to give relief to the common man and two biggest employment generators - the agriculture and textiles sectors, which are in serious trouble.
"This mammoth opportunity is being lost due to sheer incompetence of a panic stricken Modi government driven by adhocism and lost in chaos of its own making," he said.
Following the "disaster" of demonetisation, a possible "good fortune" of adding two percent to India’s GDP is being converted into "misfortune" by sheer ineptitude and amateurish handling of the most important tax-reform, he said.
The entire spirit, direction and purpose of the GST Bill introduced by Congress-led UPA government, Surjewala said, was a "single, transparent and uncomplicated taxation on goods and services" and reduction of prices. Accusing the BJP of a "we know it all" attitude, he said the party refused to acknowledge the "clutter, confusion and cost to economy by botching up the GST conception and implementation and reality dawned with the massive economic downslide".
While the Congress welcomed the interim relief to certain sections announced at the GST Council meeting yesterday, it accused the government of having "utterly failed" to address structural issues of GST reform through fair and transparent consultations.
Surjewala also alleged that the prime minister, finance minister and the government had still not laid down any road map nor given any indication of bringing petrol products, electricity and real estate within the ambit of GST, which has repeatedly been emphasized by the Congress party and experts.
"Adjournment and deferment" rather than taking decisions appears to be the way forward for this government, as they have postponed the implementation of TDS (Tax Deduction at Source), TCS (Tax Collection at Source), Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM) and -E-way bill" concept till March 31, 2018, he said. Surjewala alleged that the tax refund system had virtually collapsed with the outstanding tax refund demand of Rs 65,000 crore in July 2017 alone and exporters were in peril.
"All these are soft promises being made today with the ‘Damocles Sword’ continuing to hang in the absence of a clear decision," he said, asking whether "this would have a cascading effect on the economy and jobs creation".
He also alleged that items of mass consumption continue to be heavily taxed as no relief has been given to the common man despite the relaxations announced in some items.