Opposition Wants Roll Back Of GST Hikes

The decision to hike the GST rates for various items taken in the meeting of the GST council on June 29th and implemention done from 18th July has started to back fire. The opposition parties have unanimously started to raise their voices in the parliament against the newly imposed taxes as ‘anti-people’. Meanwhile the tax department claims that the decision was taken unanimously in the meeting held on June 29 which was attended by all states, including those ruled by the opposition parties.

As per the GST department, the tax would primarily be imposed on “pre-packaged and labelled” local unbranded products such as rice, wheat, curd, lassi, papad, honey, and so on. The revised rates would be applicable on packaged and labelled products sold in containers of up to 25kgs, from July 18.

Opposition members have taken to social media to voice their criticism. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet: “High taxes, No jobs. BJP’s masterclass on how to destroy what was once one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.”   

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India(Marxist) issued a press statement strongly condemning the latest round of unprecedented burdens imposed on the people through the GST hikes on all essential commodities such as pre-packaged rice, wheat, milk. The PB demanded that these hikes be immediately rolled back.

The statement further mentioned that 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., daily essentials like curd, paneer, meat, fish, jaggary were never taxed. This is the Modi government’s ‘gift’ to the Indian people in this year of Azaadi ka Amrut 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 a 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 GST of 5 per cent or more.

The claim of 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 on November 2021 against these proposals when they were first mooted. 

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) through the statement called upon all Party units to organise broad-based protest actions against this cruel attack on general people’s lives. Image courtesy Pragnews.com

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