The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday took a dig at the Congress after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented an award to the Goods and Services Tax Council in an event in New Delhi. The Congress, as well as Singh, have been critical of the indirect tax regime that was implemented in 2017.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the “changemaker of the year” award on the council’s behalf. The award was given by The Hindu BusinessLine.
“Gabbar Singh Tax, Rahul Gandhi?” the BJP tweeted. The Congress president often uses the name to refer to the tax regime, blaming the Narendra Modi government for implementing it hastily. In a recent interview to The Week magazine, Gandhi accused Modi of aggravating the unemployment crisis in the country by “introducing demonetisation and Gabbar Singh Tax [Goods and Services Tax]”.
Manmohan Singh has also been a vocal critic of the twin policies of demonetisation and GST. At an event in Gujarat in 2017, he had called the policies “twin blows” that have been a “complete disaster for our economy”. The government’s decisions broke “the back of our small businesses”, he had added.
Last month, he claimed that jobless growth, rural indebtedness and urban chaos have left the aspirational youth of the country restless. His comments came in the aftermath of a news report that said the impact of demonetisation and GST could be far worse than what was shown in a leaked report of unemployment figures by the National Sample Survey Office for 2017-’18. Data from the National Sample Survey Office showed that unemployment in India was at a 45-year-high of 6.1% in 2017-’18.
At the event on Friday, Singh said there was no room for “authoritarian impositions” in the country, The Hindu reported. Such actions were causing the business community to lose faith in the government, and were creating hardships for vulnerable sections of society, he warned.
“As prime minister, you have to factor in the political and social implications,” Singh said. “No innovations in the public policy realm can succeed without a reasonable consensus about it. We have opted for a democratic path for ourselves. There is no room for authoritarian impositions from above.”
The former prime minister said honest businessmen and genuine entrepreneurs should never be allowed to be harassed by revenue officials. “Unfortunately, trust between the government and business is somewhat been eroded,” he added.
Speaking about GST, Jaitley said any transformative change would have teething trouble. But he added that the reform of the tax regime was long overdue.