Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the Business Line "Change-maker of The Year Award" for the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council from former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Friday. The award was given by the daily picked the GST Council for its work towards streamlining the tax structure in India and reducing the overall tax burden on consumers.
The BJP immediately grabbed the "optic opportunity" offered by the award to ridicule the Opposition party Congress, which has often called the GST a Gabbar Singh Tax. The BJP took to Twitter to launch a salvo at Congress President Rahul Gandhi who has called the current the GST regime a "badly conceived and terribly executed" idea and promised to junk it in the present form.
Though the former PM didn't speak on the occasion, the BJP tried its best to seize the opportunity by attacking his party. "Today GST COUNCIL got BUSINESS LINE-CHANGE MAKER OF YEAR AWARD. Presented to Finance Minister Shri @arunjaitley by Dr Manmohan Singh. Gabbar Singh Tax, Rahul Gandhi?," tweeted the BJP.
Today GST COUNCIL got BUSINESS LINE-CHANGE MAKER OF YEAR AWARD. Presented to Finance Minister Shri @arunjaitley by Dr Manmohan Singh.
Gabbar Singh Tax, Rahul Gandhi? pic.twitter.com/TZO0gMT2e3- BJP (@BJP4India) March 15, 2019
"The optic value of the moment is huge. Of course, Dr. Singh is a gracious man and he knows how difficult the exercise to subsume a slew of taxes in the country under one umbrella GST was. The Finance Minister has ensured that the consensus rule was not breached and now almost 99 per cent commodities are off the high 28 per cent slab as the one tax for India moves towards lesser tax slabs than initially," said a BJP leader.
While addressing a rally recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the tax rates for 1,200-1,250 items of daily use were reduced under the new tax system. "Tax rates were brought down to 18 per cent for some, 12-5 per cent for others, and even zero per cent for certain items. We did this after acquiring public feedback," he said. He said it was "unfortunate" that the Opposition was creating such a hue and cry over a new system that's bound to transform the country.
The Congress has repeatedly criticised the BJP for hastily implementing the tax regime in 2017 and thereby creating hardships for small businesses and ordinary citizens.
Manmohan Singh -- the founding father of the GST -- himself has criticised the flaws in the current GST system, saying it disrupted non-organised sector businesses.
"The small and unorganised sectors, which were vibrant and contributing to the generation of wealth and employment opportunities, have suffered in the wake of disastrous demonetisation and slipshod introduction and implementation of the GST," ex-prime minister said at a convocation of the New Delhi Institute of Management (NDIM) in February.