‘Single GST rate ridiculous suggestion’

Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday scoffed at the suggestion made by some Opposition parties to introduce a single rate slab for the Goods and Services Tax. Addressing at a conference organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata, the Minister called it a “ridiculous suggestion”.

“There are some (political parties) who had given a ridiculous suggestion of having a single rate slab for GST. It would been a burden on the poor and the middle class if there was 18% GST on items of daily use such as clothes, salt and sugar,” said Mr. Goyal.

In February, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that if his party comes to power in the next Lok Sabha elections then a single rate slab of 18% will be introduced and most of the items used by the poor would be exempted from GST. Currently the GST slabs are 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.

Mr. Goyal, who also holds the portfolios of Railways, Coal and Corporate Affairs, pointed out that a single rate slab was a proposal of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. “The GST rate proposed (by the UPA government) earlier would have been unacceptable and the GST structure also would not have worked,” said Mr. Goyal.

He also said that the GST Council has reduced tax rates on 328 items out 1,200 items which are currently under the GST system.

Elaborating on the reason why the Centre was not keen on eliminating GST slabs and further reducing tax rates, Mr. Goyal said that if all the taxpayers pay their taxes then India could become a low-tax nation.

Defending the Centre’s decision of introducing GST on July 1 last year, Mr. Goyal said that “if the rolling out of GST was delayed from July 1, 2017 then the problems would have increased”.

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