Comparing the goods and services tax (GST) to the introduction of mobile phones in India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that “people are GST-phobic in the same way they were for mobile phones initially but slowly grew comfortable with them”.
Speaking after laying the foundation stone of the new office of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Ludhiana, Jaitley said: “There were days when mobile phones had just entered India. People were nervous, there were various myths over its usage… But, slowly they realised it is a boon and a mobile phone revolution took place.”
Jaitley also issued a warning for “dishonest taxpayers” and said that “those who are dishonest will have obvious problems with GST because they will be caught soon”. “GST is a boon for the people who pay their taxes honestly. They do not even need to see the faces of some tax officials now. But for the dishonest persons, GST is not a good thing because they will be caught soon if they will try to do tax evasion,” said Jaitley.
Earlier in the day, Jaitley at a function organised by the Satya Bharti Foundation in Ludhiana appealed the industry to spare 2 per cent of their profits for CSR activities and focus on building toilets in schools.
“Jo zyada hoshiyaar banenge, wo sankat mein fasenge (Those who will try to be oversmart, they will be in trouble). Even during demonetization, dishonest people who had accumulated black money were running here and there but honest people were ecstatic,” said Jaitley asking people to pay GST honestly.
“People are currently nervous over GST but I assure you that this phobia will go away soon,” said Jaitley giving the example of state of Jammu & Kashmir saying that ‘despite having separate Constitution has adopted GST.’
The farmers from Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal & Lakhowal) gathered outside the venue to protest against Jaitley against GST imposed on agriculture related goods and issue of loan waiver for farmers. However, they were allowed a meeting with Jaitley. Harinder Singh Lakhowal, a union leader who met the minister said that they raised the issue of GST and loan waiver. “We asked Jaitley that why loans of corporate houses and business houses are being waived if not farmers? We asked him that why are we left at mercy of state governments who are also giving us lollipops and doing nothing. He replied that businessmen who are being given loan waiver had gone diwaaliya(bankrupt). We were not satisfied with his reply. He just accepted our memorandum,” he said.
The small scale industry owners from Janta Nagar Small Scale Manufacturers Association showed black flags to the minister’s convoy as protest against GST.