- PM addresses huge rally in Gandhinagar during Gujarat campaign
- Congress and other parties involved in GST decisions, he said
- GST welcomed by traders, Congress must stop lying, he said
The GST has been tagged, along with the PM's shock decision to ban high-denomination notes a year ago, as a significant contributing factor to the economic slowdown. Top union ministers have said that the slowdown, based on the last quarter which registered a three-year-low of 5.7 per cent growth, is being exaggerated. The PM himself in a lengthy defence of his economic record said that "a handful of pessimists" are playing fast and loose with facts to misrepresent a blip in the economy.
The GST, which replaced a jumble of tariffs and levies imposed by the centre and states, was conceived of by the previous Congress-led government. The Congress and other opposition parties have attacked Mr Modi's administration for a rush job in introducing the GST on July 1. Problems included a glitched GST Network, the vast IT back-end system meant to crunch up to 5 billion invoices a month, and complicated tax slabs.
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met with his counterparts from states - together, they comprise the GST Council -and revised rates on a range of items. Among them, those that are crucial to traders in Gujarat: the khakra snack, for example, and man-made textile yarn. Critics pointed out these concessions were intended to ensure the BJP was not penalised by small and medium sized businesses in Gujarat, which must vote before December 18.
"We took feedback and we made changes," Mr Modi said to a huge rally in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. "All parties and states were involved" in deciding the main features of the GST, he said.