Q. What is the CPI(M)’s basic stand on GST?
Sarvartrik Brahma, Kolkata
THE Central Committee of the CPI(M) in its meeting held from July 24 to 26, 2017 has adopted a resolution on Goods & Services Tax, which sets out its basic stand on GST. Earlier the Party had in a piecemeal fashion reacted to some aspects of GST particularly of how the GST would affect state governments and their rights.
The Party has stated that the introduction of GST is part of the neo-liberal drive. The GST structure is weighted in favour of the corporates and will adversely affect small and tiny enterprises, small traders and unorganised sector occupation. The GST will affect industries like textiles, pharmaceuticals, construction, transport and tailoring which will have its effects on employment.
New burdens are going to be put on the common people, with an iniquitous tax system which imposes unjustified taxes such as 5 per cent tax on equipment used by the disabled, the 12 per cent tax on sanitary napkins, 12 per cent tax on food served in non-AC restaurants, GST rates on essential medicines on so on.
The GST regime has undermined the federal structure and will take away vital rights of the states. There is also the imminent threat of inflation and all round increase in the prices of consumer goods.
The Party has demanded that the government take steps through the GST Council to immediately review and revise the GST tax structure to ensure that all unreasonable and iniquitous taxes are removed or reduced. The decisions of the GST Council must be brought under parliamentary scrutiny and supervision. The GST network (GSTN) should be brought under the coverage of the CAG and the RTI Act.
The Central Committee has called upon its Party units to support and actively participate in the protest actions and struggles to ensure that the burdens imposed on different sections and sectors through GST are removed.
Q. The Kerala Government is not opposed to GST, why?
V Samy, Trichy
THE Kerala government through its representative in the GST Council had opposed and worked for changes in the tax structure of the GST and the rates which were being levied on different commodities. The Kerala government has adopted a stand which was to safeguard the rights of the states and also to see that the tax structure does not favour the luxury and non-essential goods while giving relief to the commodities used by the poor and the ordinary people.
Since the GST Council involves the central government and all the state governments, all the proposals of the Kerala government were not accepted, though some were.
After the introduction of GST, the Kerala government has been actively trying to ensure that on commodities in which taxes were reduced as compared to the pre-GST rate, the benefit of the reduction in tax is passed on to the consumer. One such instance is the price of chicken. Since there is no GST on chicken and other food items, the Kerala government has taken a firm stand that the retail prices of chicken should come down from Rs 103 to Rs 87 per kilogram.