Accusing the Congress of adopting an 'obstructionist attitude' in blocking GST, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the points of dissent being raised now on this legislation did not find favour with either of the two UPA Finance Ministers -- P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee.
Jaitley said the Congress may be upset with the government for 'political reasons', but it must "accept and seriously introspect" that negativism and its "obstructionist tendencies" would hurt the country and the economy.
Giving a point-wise rebuttal to all eight instances of dissent put forth by the Congress, he said the present government has not made "any significant modifications" to the GST legislation accepted by the previous UPA government and it has also been supported by the Congress-ruled states.
Acknowledging that there may be merit in Congress' demand for 18 per cent GST rate, he said this needs to be decided by the GST council and the only significant change introduced in the present bill was "to bring a consensus between manufacturing and consuming states".
"Is it only out of an obstructionist attitude that the Congress party has adopted a negative role? Since Parliament is not functioning and there is no way to clarify these points before the same, I am constrained to place the above facts in public domain," Jaitley said in a post on his Facebook page. Rejecting the Congress proposal for raising the states' voting power in the GST Council to three-fourth, Jaitley said, "Is it the Congress proposal that the Union should cease to economically survive?
Is it their proposal that the Centre should have no say in the system of national taxation? "The Congress appears to have made this proposal without adequate application of mind."
Jaitley further said: "The Congress party and its leader may be upset with the government for political reasons. They may be upset with the electorate for the 2014 verdict."
"The Congress party should accept and seriously introspect after having ruled the country for the longest period of time, that negativism hurts the country. Should its obstructionist tendencies inflict an economic injury on the country?"'
Stating that it was a Congress-led government that proposed GST in 2006-07 Budget and the Constitution amendment was also piloted by the UPA, Jaitley said changes suggested by the Empowered Committee and the Standing Committee at that time were also accepted by the UPA government.
For GST rollout from April 1, 2016, Parliament needs to approve the Constitution Amendment Bill in the current monsoon session, ending August 13, after which half of 30 states would need to clear it.
The nation-wide Goods and Services Tax (GST) seeks to replace all existing indirect taxes. However, Parliament proceedings have been repeatedly getting disrupted over issues like Lalit Modi controversy and the Vyapam scam for the past two weeks.