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Rahul Gandhi says GST has brought computerised licence raj

GST has created a “21st century computerised and connected licence raj” that has unleashed a “tsunami of tax terrorism”, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday, seeking reform in its structure. At the annual session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rahul, using military jargon, said India had suffered a “double tap” shot in the heart of its economy — demonetisation and GST. He labelled the slowing of the economy and the distress of small traders and “MMD — Modi made disaster”. He said “trust in this government is dead” and the GST was “badly conceptualised and implemented”.

Rahul claimed that the expectations of people from the Prime Minister, that he will deliver on his promises, lies shattered after three-and-a-half years. “Their GST is wrecked with holes, moth eaten. Flawed in its structure. Punitive in its design. It is forcing businesses to incur massive transaction costs that are destroying them. It is creating a 21st century computerised and connected licence raj. GST, as this government has formulated, has already unleashed a tsunami of tax terrorism and it is only going to (get) worse,” he said.

When asked what the Congress would do about GST, Rahul said the Congress’s position was that the GST is “over-complicated”. “Our position is that this five-six tax slabs that they have made…. There are shortcomings in it. And the 28 per cent tax… that should be capped at 18 per cent…. Sadly, the GST has been implemented. So this government may not accept that kind of changes…. but we will put pressure. But our position is that GST will have to be reformed, changed….”

Explainig the double tap shot, he said: “Commandos in hostage situations fire what is called a double tap, two quick, closely placed shots fired at the chest to ensure that their terrorist target is dead. Modi and his government have fired a double tap at the heart of our economy. first notebandi… bang… and then a badly conceptualised and implemented GST… bang… crippled the economy.”

He mocked the BJP’s decision to observe November 8 as Anti-Black Money Day. “In a couple of weeks from now, we will observe the death anniversary of the 500 and thousand rupee notes. November the 8th is the barsi of ‘notebandi’ — when Narendra Modi personally wiped out 86 per cent of the currency in circulation overnight.”

“Small, micro and medium businesses are screaming in pain, they are drowning and Mr Arun Jaitley, with his impeccable logic, has the nerve to go on TV every other day and tell people that things are just fine. The government refuses to listen, everybody is shouting, every other day you see Mr Jaitley saying: ‘everything is ok’, and he pulls out a graph and shows us that after 2019 things will become normal,” he said.

Responding to a question on whether power was centralised in 10, Janpath during the UPA time, he said this was a “misunderstanding”. He added that the concentration (of power) in the PMO in the UPA years “was nowhere near concentration of power in PMO today”.

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