Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram on Sunday criticised the Centre over flawed implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. The government is celebrating the completion of one year of the indirect tax regime.

Chidambaram said GST was thrust upon an unprepared nation. “GST has become a word that traders fear,” he told reporters at a press conference. “It is an undeniable fact that GST has not had a positive impact on the Indian economy.”

The former finance minister said the design, structure and implementation of GST was flawed. He claimed that industrialised states have lost a crore of jobs because of the new tax regime.

“Beginning with the GST Constitution Amendment Bill, every step taken by the BJP government with regard to GST was deeply flawed. The GST bills ignored the advice of the chief economic adviser on many aspects of GST, notably on the rates,” he said.

Chidambaram said petroleum products must be brought under the ambit of GST, while several amendments suggested must be discussed with the Opposition in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

‘Grossly Scary Tax’

On Saturday, the Congress described GST as a “Grossly Scary Tax”, adding that multiple returns, multiple rules and tax slabs have made the life of an ordinary trader “nightmarish”.

“It [GST] remains Grossly Scary Tax for millions of traders, shopkeepers and businessmen,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said on Twitter. “No wonder GST’s more popular description is ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ than ‘Genuine & Simple Tax’ that it was meant to be.”

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari on Sunday said July 1 should be observed with “2 minutes silence for the Indian economy”. “It’s obituary reads as follows: A dynamic entity assassinated by surgical strikes of demonetisation, GST and chicanery wiping out growth and equity pushing millions into penury. RIP!” he said on Twitter.

Congress leader and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the Narendra Modi government should apologise for imposing GST regime without proper planning. People are still struggling without knowing how to cope with it, he said. “It was like throwing someone who doesn’t know swimming into deep sea,” he added.

‘Vibrant example of cooperative federalism’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said GST has brought a positive change to the Indian economy. “A vibrant example of cooperative federalism and a ‘Team India’ spirit, GST has brought a positive change in the Indian economy,” he said on Twitter. “GST has brought growth, simplicity and transparency. It is boosting formalisation, enhancing productivity, furthering ‘Ease of Doing Business’, benefitting small and medium enterprises.”

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the smooth manner in which the transition to the GST regime had taken place is unprecedented. Union minister Piyush Goyal is handling the ministry while Jaitley convalesces.

“I myself used to use the word disruptive when it came to major reform like GST because it takes time to settle down,” Jaitley said while addressing the government’s GST Day celebrations through video conferencing. “But after one year of experience I’m not too sure whether I can use the word disruptive for GST reform.”

The Union minister said as the tax collection will increase, the capacity to rationalise the slabs and rates will also increase.

Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Sunday said GST revenue collection rose to Rs 95,610 crore in June, from Rs 94,016 crore in May.