demonetisation cashless economy digital jaitley chidambaram modi lingerie
P Chidambaram speaks at the Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) conclave in New Delhi July 16, 2013 [Representational Image]Reuters file

Prime minister Modi might have said GST has brought about a positive change in the Indian economy, but according to former finance minister P Chidambaram, GST has become a bad word among commoners.

The Congress on Sunday attacked the Modi government on the first anniversary of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying it has become a bad word among business persons.

The design, structure, infrastructure backbone, rate or rates and implementation of GST were so flawed that GST has become a bad word among business persons, traders, exporters and common citizens.

Chidambaram said the only section that appeared to be happy about the GST was the tax administration that had acquired extraordinary powers that frighten the average business person and the common citizen.

Beginning with the GST Constitution Amendment Bill, every step taken by the BJP government with regard to the GST was deeply flawed.

The net result is that what we have today is a very different animal and not a true GST.

The Congress leader also stressed that the multiple rates, going up to 40 percent, and arbitrary cess on top of the rates had completely "distorted the idea of GST".

Arun Jaitley
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that the country would be switching to GST rollout at midnight June 30, 2017.Reuters

According to the former Finance minister, average business firms, especially the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are facing a huge compliance burden, "by requiring the assessee to file three returns a month in every state where the assessee carries on business. That means that an all-India business is required to file over 1,000 returns a year," he said.

Chidambaram added that because of the flawed design and hasty implementation, according to the statement of the Minister of Industry in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, 50,000 SME units in that state were closed in 2017-18 and 5 lakh jobs were lost.

It is an undeniable fact that GST has not yet had a positive impact on economic growth," the Congress leader said.

Arun Jaitley with Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) listens to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the Global Business Summit in New Delhi January 16, 2015.REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

The Congress leader also said that the tax administrators were untrained.

Gross delay in refunds has blocked crucial working capital of firms. It is widely perceived that GST has increased the tax burden of the common citizen; it has certainly not reduced the tax burden as was promised.

The truth is that GST was thrust upon an unprepared nation.

Chidambaram advised the government to bring petroleum products and electricity under GST.