A DAY before the Delhi Assembly is scheduled to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Tuesday made it clear that although the Delhi government supports the Bill and the intent behind the tax reforms, it is still concerned about the existing taxation structure and would oppose it in the GST Council. Sisodia briefed the press on Tuesday after claiming to have met 32 trade associations in the capital. In a nutshell, Sisodia explained, there is a need for a “less complex structure, lower taxes” for “increased compliance”.
On Monday, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian had said the GST Bill could be a model for the 21st century but rued that the system was far from being “flawless” since subjects such as real estate and alcohol remained outside its realm. Sisodia had claimed that barring AAP, all other state governments had opposed keeping real estate within the GST because “politicians and influential people…put their black money in these businesses”. However, on Tuesday, Sisodia’s focus wasn’t limited to the issues of alcohol or land but extended to the actual taxation of various services.
“It (GST) is India’s most important tax reform and our responsibility is to represent Delhi and its people,” he said. He added that for the benefit of the residents of Delhi and small traders, the need was to focus on “lowering the tax rate” to “increase compliance”. “There are problems in the GST’s implementation that could lead to disaster,” he said. Citing examples ranging from optical goods to brooms, Sisodia said that various state governments needed to come together to continuously work on the GST. “Take, for instance, opticals. It is not a luxury product, but a necessity. A lot of children, some very young, need to get spectacles,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta demanded that the AAP government announce compensation for the three MCDs, which would lose revenue after the implementation of GST. He said the BJP would raise the issue during the Assembly session.