Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh minister Om Prakash Dhurve of the BJP drew muted laughter as he candidly admitted that he is not quite able to understand GST or Goods and Services Tax, stating that the new national tax has even confounded professionals. The minister was making a public speech earlier this week at a party function to celebrate a year of the notes ban, his brief undoubtedly to explain how the BJP-led central government's two mega reforms, demonetisation and GST, have benefited the people.
But Mr Dhurve said, "I am myself unable to understand GST, so I will not speak on it," adding, "Big CAs (chartered accountants) are unable to understand it, traders are unable to understand it. It's about understanding it. Once you do, you will like it."
The BJP might not appreciate the candour, which comes as the party's government at the Centre is under attack from opposition parties for what they allege is poor timing and hurried and unwieldy implementation of the GST, launched on July 1 this year.
Opposition leaders like Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee have assigned the new national tax monikers like "Gabbar Singh Tax" and the "Great Selfish Tax," as they accuse the BJP-led government of hitting traders with complicated filing systems and unclear, multi-rate rules that are still being tweaked.
In Guwahati today, the powerful GST council headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is reviewing tax rates and the income tax returns filing cycle under GST to make it more user friendly, an exercise that the Congress has alleged is impelled by what it calls the BJP's nervousness over GST upsetting traders in Gujarat, which votes next month. The BJP is seeking a fifth straight term in power in the state.
Assembly elections will also be held in a few months in Madhya Pradesh, where Mr Dhurve, who is Food and Civil Supplies, and his colleagues will be called upon to defend GST against chief rival Congress. In Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi has designed his aggressive election campaign around an attack over demonetisation and the notes ban, blaming the reforms for a slowdown in economic growth.
The government has defended it policies as key structural reforms that will deliver massive benefits for the economy in the long run.