Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the Congress, which has been attacking him over the alleged failure of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), had “no idea” of the taxation scheme.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Jaitley also clarified that the GST Council, under him, was looking into rationalising the rates as and when a revenue-neutral situation arises.
“The national leaders of the Congress have no idea or understanding of the GST, while their state ministers understand the procedure to decide slabs. Ascertaining rates for various commodities and fixing tax rates takes time. It is not an overnight process, and this needs to be understood. Bringing everything under the 18 per cent GST slab is helping those who spend on luxury items. Does Congress want to make BMWs and Mercedes cheaper?” he questioned.
Continuing his criticism of the Opposition and the measures taken during their governance in the last ten years, Jaitley claimed that the India was perceived as a country with ‘policy paralysis’ globally.
“We all know how the Congress’ governance impacted the economy during their stint at the Centre. Excessive funding was given to the banks and other financial institutions, and improper restructuring resulted in further problems. India was considered to be undergoing a policy paralysis at the time,” he said.
Drawing a parallel to the financial reforms introduced in the last three years, Jaitley re-iterated that India was on a trajectory of rapid economic expansion, attributable to the structural reforms that have been implemented.
“We have invested large amounts in capital expenditure on banks, with similar boosts given to infrastructure. We have also introduced stringent measures to keep a check on the NPAs. The Golden Quadrilateral, which was completed in 2012, sparked an economic activity in the country. And now, with the introduction of the Bharatmala project, we are looking at massively expanding roadways and connectivity,” he said.
“Under the GST regime, a lot of relief has been given – from filing quarterly returns to 1 per cent tax for turnover under Rs. 1 crore,” he added.
Jaitley further refuted claims of having introduced the economic reforms, such as the bank recapitalisation project, as an election strategy, adding that such reforms have a “long term impact”, and cannot be ascertained during pre-election period.
The Union Minister also tore into the UPA regime over the lack of policy for Kashmir turbulence and said the previous government’s policy for the Valley was a ‘band-aid solution’.
Earlier yesterday, Jaitley, while addressing a media conference, had said that India has remained as the world’s fastest growing economy for the past three years, thus maintaining very strong economic fundamentals with progressive growth story.