New Delhi: Accusing Congress of adopting an “obstructionist attitude” on the GST Bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today asked whether the Congress wants alcohol to be cheaper by bringing it under GST and reducing taxes on it.
Reacting to Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's blog “How Congress will block GST” in response to his “Dissent or Disruption - The Congress Party's Position on GST”, Jaitley said Aiyar has cited an interesting reason for blocking GST Bill by claiming that alcohol for human consumption is taxed at very high rates by states due to which people consume ‘hooch'.
The Finance Minister said Aiyar has contended that this results in revenue loss, malpractices and even death of people consuming illicit liquor.
Jaitley said Aiyar believes that liquor should be brought within the GST instead of leaving it to the taxing purview of states so that it can be taxed at the constitutional limit of 18 per cent that the Congress party now proposes. “If Mani's blog is to be believed, the Congress party's position is to make alcohol cheaper so that people do not resort to ‘hooch'.
“Is this Congress Party's concept of a comprehensive GST that alcohol becomes cheaper? Is this amongst the basis for Congress Party's opposition to the GST? I hope the Congress party either clarifies its position or confirms Mani's view,” he said on a Facebook post, titled “Hooch versus alcohol - Congress party's priority”.
Considering Aiyar was the leading dissenter on behalf of his party, Jaitley said he has no reason to doubt that the Congress leader represents the views of his party. He also took a dig at Aiyar, saying “UPA's two eminent Finance Ministers were not struck by the wisdom that Mani Shankar Aiyar possesses”.
Jaitley had earlier said the points of dissent raised by Congress now on the tax reform legislation did not find favour with either of the two UPA Finance Ministers—P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee.
He had also said that Congress may be upset with the government for “political reasons”, but it must “accept and seriously introspect” that negativism and its “obstructionist tendencies” would hurt the country and the economy.