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Voice Of Bengal::Politics
S Mitra


GST ...good or bad?

Since July 2017 we have GST world in India - we have so much confusion, revisions, and opinions about it - that most people are just tired of it, even though it is part and parcel of our life now. We have 4 slabs - 5%, 12%, 18%, 28% . Now on top of that several items like Gold and Silver and tobacco items have cess. Also, while some items are exempted most even sweets have GST on it and at different rates and some of that eventually withdrawn too. To put it in one word - it is mess. Though I fully support the GST conceptually, it is again implementation of it which is not done the way it should be.

GST eliminates the several level of State taxes, Octroi, and central taxes and simplifies it - at least that was the goal of it. The problem is when we started to be picky what should be taxed at what rate based on our comfort level, vote-bank, lobbying, and prejudices. To simplify - it should be just 1 or 2 slabs only and no other form of cess etc. It makes everyone know what it is and know what to be added to the list price. The other thing is its scope and phased implementation. How exactly every items would be taxed with GST and that money is collected by center or state is beyond me. Let's say - you buy something from street side - it is never taxed with GST in the first place and even though it is - how do you know that money is really sent to tax department (considering so many things in India including receipts are fake). We have fake doctors, fake businesses, fake agent, fake service people - how exactly is it considered a sacred cow suddenly. Should I consider - one fine morning - everybody woke up and started behaving the right way. Where are the crosscheck points for ordinary citizens?

I read a lot of opinions or economist with both views - which is usual but the biggest problem to me is hasty one-go implementation which has created chaos in the market. GST collection is decreasing every months and center really has no clue – but only because it is election time again - 179 of 250 items got waiver from 28%. So, what happens to the revenue or tax shortfall? How the government is going to bring the budget shortfall addressed? Unfortunately, in India, most people don't care to ask these questions - everyone seems to have an opinion based on personal liking and benefits which is sometimes mixed with politics and religious beliefs. GST is not Mody's idea and was in the pipeline for a long time - in fact Asim Dasgupta was head of GST committee in UPA government till 2010. Still, the paranoid media and now a lot of people believe as if it is Modi's idea. Modi is taking some bold steps - there is no doubt about it and some of it will eventually bring good results too. But it’s not so thoughtful process of implementation of schemes is creating pain for masses. Jobs are getting lost because increased value creating less demand, frequent changes in rate creating havoc in accounting too. It seems the Government is using its people like guinea pig. GST will bring better GDP growth –probably- but how a normal citizen gets impacted by it and for how long is more important to consider. Reality bites – and only soothing words never heals that wound either.

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