New Delhi: The Modi government's Goods and Services Tax (GST) law is "very, very imperfect" and cannot be labelled "one nation, one tax" as it has seven or more tax rates, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said in New Delhi today.
The Congress will press for reduction in tax rates and demand a cap of 18 per cent, besides seeking to bring petroleum, electricity and real estate under the new tax regime, the former finance minister told reporters.
"This is a very, very imperfect law. This is not the GST which we (the UPA) had envisaged...What has been implemented, however, is a GST with seven, or possibly more, rates. It is a mockery of GST.
"When we have rates like 0.25, 3, 5, 12, 18, 28 and 40, and possibly more because of the discretion vested with state governments, how can we call this a 'one nation, one tax' regime?" he asked.
Mr Chidambaram said the Congress would continue to watch the roll-out of GST and articulate the fears and grievances of small and medium size and multi-state businesses and consumers.
"We will keep vigil over the possible misuse of the draconian powers given to anti-profiteering authority. We will highlight the elements of the true GST."
He noted that authorities and businesses were "unprepared or underprepared" for the roll-out of the tax regime and said its launch should have been deferred by two months and the GSTN (goods and services tax network) should have been put through a trial run. The leader said the party would hold meetings and conferences across the country to highlight that the Congress was the "original proponent" of the GST and campaign for bringing a "true GST".
According to Mr Chidambaram, BJP leader and former finance Minister Yashwant Sinha had also confirmed that this was not the GST envisaged by the first NDA regime led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.