Parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy has taken a position against the implementation of the GST in a recent exclusive interview with ‘The Nikkei’ and stated: “I will go to court and stop it”. The interview was conducted by Nikkei’s staff writer Yuji Kuronuma.
Asked whether he supported the implementation of the GST, SS said: “GST will not come. GST has not passed in Parliament. Only constitutional amendments have been passed in Parliament [in August], and other necessary Bills have not yet passed”. He added the GST won’t see the light of the day because of the GSTN, the Goods and Services Tax Network [the special-purpose vehicle created to facilitate tax collection]. Either the government will have to scrap the GSTN, which means whole things will collapse, or ‘I won’t let it come’.
He pointed out to the interviewer that the “GST means that the government has to keep records of all companies and their transactions and follow it up to see if they actually sell products or services at the place they are claiming. All this tax data, I think it is 6 million companies, has to be pooled in a computer.
So, Mr. Chidambaram [the former finance minister in the previous government] created the company, which is called GSTN, that was given this task. [The problem is] who were the shareholders [of GSTN]. 49 per cent [of the stock is held by] the government of India, including state governments, and 51% [is] owned by private banks such as ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank — private banks. All the tax revenue collected will be put in these banks. And these banks and government will sit together to decide how it will be distributed to various states. Now a large portion of these banks’ shares is owned by foreigners. So, 51% of GSTN is internally owned by foreigners. That means all the tax data will be available to them — foreigners”.
Asked whether the GSTN should be regulated by the central government, he said: I don’t want the government to regulate. The government has enough other work.” However, he clarified that he won’t mind if the government takes over the GSTN. “Kick out ICICI and kick out HDFC, and then 100% will be held by the government. Then there will be no problem, but it won’t happen because they have already sunk. It will be a scandal by the time they [create] a new set-up. State governments will want a share, too. It will be beyond 2019 when the next general election is scheduled.
Asked to explain, SS said if the government takes over, the program”me would be delayed. “We need to put it together with a computer programme, which is at present with Infosys. The company appointed the wife of the former minister of state for finance [Jayant Sinha] as a director. That may also be a corruption issue. The government could take this over, too. They could cancel the contract with Infosys, but it will take time. If the government takes responsibility, it can be done through Department of Electronics, but they will need a fresh [mandate], etcetera. [It] will take two years. In two years we will have the next general election. Forget GST”.
Asked whether there are other leaders in the BJP speaking against the implementation of the GST, he said “They didn’t know. Even the prime minister didn’t know until I wrote a letter to inform him, as it was kept a secret”.