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Narendra Modi: GST will curb tax terrorism, corruption and help states

The proposed GST bill tabled in Lok Sabha will help to rejuvenate country's economy by ending "tax terrorism" and promoting entrepreneurship, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday stated the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill bring a sea change by helping states, supporting small entrepreneurs and also to fight against corruption.

Addressing the Lok Sabha during a debate on the GST bill, which was tabled today Modi said, the GST will be a pioneering step in taking the country to a new ara by getting rid of “tax terrorism” and also ensure “consumer is the king”.

“In our country there is a trend of kaccha bill-pucca bill (fake bills and original bills),” Modi said, adding that the new bill would be technology based.

After its introduction, corporates and entrepreneurs “will be forced” to ask for pucca bill (original) and could help “end corruption in the long run”.

He termed GST as a “Great Step by Team India, great Step towards transformation and great Step towards transparency”.

Responding to various issues raised by members, including M. Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharge (both Congress), the Prime Minister said that the proposed law will help states, especially those which are considered backward.

He asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to ensure that 16 states ratify the bill at the earliest and initiate steps to ensure early passage of the draft legislation on integrated GST, the central GST and the state GST.
“It will address the problem of imbalanced development,” he maintained.

Earlier, the Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the Constitution amendment bill for introduction of a pan-India Goods and Services Tax regime on August 3.

However, Modi’s absence at that time during the important debate has invited the wrath of opposition parties, mainly the Congress. This time, Modi spent considerable time in the House during the debate even after making his speech in the evening.

Elaborating on how GST could help in curbing corruption, Modi wished the new mechanism will also end leakage or pilferage in the entire supply chain.

Prime Minister said while the country often hears people and public leaders talk about corruption, there is also a need to ensure that the system is corrected.

Modi said he has always maintained that small businesses are the country’s strength and his government has worked hard to bring necessary changes in the GST law to ensure that “consumer and small businesses will gain tremendously”. Small business will feel more secure with this, he said.

He also said a big message of the GST law will be that “consumer will be the king”.

Prime Minister said the Goods and Services Tax Bill was “a very big and important step” towards getting the country rid of “tax terrorism”.

Trying to dispel notions of a few opposition leaders that the BJP-led government would try to steal the limelight and take all the credit for passing the GST, he said “this should not be seen as a victory of any single party”.

The Lok Sabha, which had already passed the GST Constitution Amendment Bill in May 2015, took it up on Monday again to approve the modifications made in it by the Rajya Sabha last week.

The government had moved six official amendments, including scrapping of 1 per cent additional tax.

Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge earlier bluntly asked BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, on why their party had opposed the GST Bill when the UPA was in power.

“We are getting all the blame, a perception has gone that we (Congress) stalled the GST. Actually it is you all (BJP) who opposed it,” Kharge said in the Lok Sabha while participating in the GST bill.

During his reply, Modi maintained that having seen the issues concerning GST as the Gujarat Chief Minister, now that he is Prime Minister “I find it easy today to address these problems”.

He said it is true, a trust deficit had come to stay between states and the Centre earlier. However, he said now good relation has developed as members rose above party affiliations in Parliament to talk about GST.

Modi also strongly countered Veerappa Moily’s contention that the NDA government had consulted only Rajya Sabha leaders on the uniform tax law and thereby reduced the Lok Sabha to a “junior partner”.

“Such description was uncalled for,” PM said and maintained that when his government began consultation on the GST, he had met both Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a member of Lok Sabha, and Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP.

“One is a Lok Sabha MP and other is from Rajya Sabha. I treated both the house equally. Question of treating Lok Sabha as a junior house does not arise,” he made it clear.

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