Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Friday said he is “one of the satisfied members of the GST council” under Arun Jaitley’s chairmanship because the Union Finance Minister is “open to ideas” and “questions”. Sisodia, also the capital’s finance minister, added that “making yourself heard as an opposition party has not been difficult” in the meetings.
Sisodia was speaking at the Idea Exchange at The Indian Express office on Friday. “The GST council meetings till now have been good… Arun Jaitley is the chairman and he is very open to ideas, let me admit. Till now, the way meetings have been held, I am one of the satisfied members. Whenever I raise a question or raise an issue, he considers (it),” Sisodia said. “Making yourself heard as an opposition party hasn’t been difficult. You raise your voice and you are heard.”
Sisodia’s remarks come at a time when the Delhi High Court is hearing a defamation case filed by Jaitley against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
On other ministers in the council, he said, “There are great finance ministers in BJP-ruled states as well. They are very intelligent and have come up with some very good ideas as well. I am not trying to play a blame game.”
The Delhi Finance Minister reiterated that he was an “in-principle advocate” of the GST regime, but added that he has “objections” with how it is “being taken forward” without sufficiently considering “Indian market realities”.
“The tax regime can’t just be officer-centric; it has to be consumer-centric and trader-centric. Ultimately the trader has to collect the tax. That hasn’t happened, we think how will the tax come… put 18% on this and 18% on that. It can’t work like this… We need to consider the Indian market realities, that is not being considered,” he said.
Sisodia added that the past two meetings of the GST council in June were both a result of issues that his government had raised. “There were some issues that I had raised and he (Jaitley) felt there wasn’t enough time. So he said, let us call another meeting… When, in the next meeting, all the issues weren’t addressed, I suggested that there be another meeting because I had spoken to almost 30-odd associations and had taken their inputs with me. He (Jaitley) said this is very voluminous and he said to discuss this we need a separate meeting,” said Sisodia.
He said he is “optimistic” of a July 1 GST rollout, explaining that the “impression we have been given as members” of the council is that “they are prepared”. He added that the Centre has a “leeway of two more months” if “they are not prepared”.