NEW DELHI: The Congress slammed Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday on her defence of the goods and service tax (GST) on daily use items saying that it was not a unanimous decision.
Congress general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh issued a statement highlighting 10 points in reply to Sitharaman’s explanation given on Tuesday.
In a series of tweets, he said, “Our 10-point answer to FM’s laboured defence of increase in GST rates on food items. ‘Branded and labeled’ is very different from ‘pre-packaged & labeled’. The former affects only products of big companies priced higher and bought by middle and upper middle classes. The latter affects small businesses whose products are bought by the lower middle class and the poor (sic).”
The Congress leader said that the Bengal minister who attended the meeting had disclosed it was a virtual meeting. “The FMs did not meet face to face and did not consult each other,” he said.
खाद्य पदार्थों पर जीएसटी दरों में वृद्धि के लिए वित्त मंत्री द्वारा बिना तर्क के दी गई सफाई पर 10 प्वाइंट में हमारा जवाब।
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 20, 2022
He also said that the Bengal minister also contradicted the FM and said that she (and some others) opposed the report of the Fitment Committee that recommended the increases.
“Changing its stance, the Government and the FM now use the word ‘consensus’ and not ‘unanimous’,” Ramesh said.
Slamming the government, the Congress spokesperson said, “Why should not the poorer consumers aspire to buy pre-packaged and labeled goods? The Modi Government is penalising aspiration and a desire to buy more hygienically packed goods.”
He also said that going through the list, the GST on crematoriums has been increased to 18 per cent.
Ramesh further said that assume there are some input taxes in pre-packaged goods. “Was there a demand from producers and sellers to impose a GST on pre-packaged and labeled goods? Not to our knowledge,” Ramesh said.
He also questioned why are small businesses, shopkeepers and consumers – all stakeholders – complaining about the revised GST rates?
“Above all, the timing. It is cruel to raise tax rates when CPI inflation is over 7 per cent, WPI inflation is over 15 per cent, unemployment is high, the rupee is depreciating, the current account deficit is widening and inflation is expected to rise worldwide,” he added.