July 24, 2022

Roll back these GST Hikes

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on July 20, 2022:

THE Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India(Marxist) strongly condemns the latest round of unprecedented burdens imposed on the people through the GST hikes on all essential commodities such as pre-packaged rice, wheat, and milk. The Polit Bureau demands that these hikes be immediately rolled back.

Independent India abandoned the policy of the colonial British government’s tax on food items. In these last 75 years, food items like rice, wheat, pulses etc., and daily essentials like curd, paneer, meat, fish, and jaggery were never taxed. This is the Modi government’s ‘gift’ to the Indian people in this year of Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

The range of items on which GST has been increased also includes crematorium charges, hospital rooms, writing ink etc. Even to withdraw one’s own savings from their bank account people have to pay 18 per cent GST on bank cheques.

This cruel assault on people’s livelihood comes when there is a run-away price rise with the Consumer Price Index ranging above 7 per cent and the Wholesale Price Index above 15 per cent, soaring unemployment, a tumbling rupee, unprecedented trade deficit and stumbling GDP growth. These hikes will further ruin people’s livelihood.

To raise revenue, the Modi government must tax the super-rich and not impose more burdens on the people. Apart from having the fastest growing billionaires in the world, companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange reported collective profits of Rs 9.3 lakh crores in 2021-222, i.e., 70 per cent more than the previous year and three times higher than the average profits earned during the decade, 2010-2020. Instead of taxing this super rich, the Modi government is giving them further tax concessions and loan waivers. Many of the luxury goods that should have been taxed heavily are having a modest GST. Gold purchases are taxed at 3 per cent, diamonds at 1.5 per cent, while food items have a GST of 5 per cent or more.

The claim of the Modi government that no opposition was raised against these hikes is blatantly untrue. The Kerala chief minister has written to the prime minister conveying the state government’s strong objection and reminding him that the state finance minister conveyed reservations as early as November 2021 against these proposals when they were first mooted. 

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon all Party units to organise broad-based protest actions against this cruel attack on people’s lives.