Petroleum products and alcohol will be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime if the Congress party is voted to power in the 2019 general elections, Congress Working Committee member and former Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said here on Sunday.
Such a step would widen the unified tax net in the country, he said at an interactive session in Kochi held as part of gathering suggestions for the party’s election manifesto. Fuel, alcohol, real estate and power will be brought under the GST regime. The party will also lower taxes and simplify them, Mr. Sharma added.
“India now has the world’s most complex GST structure, ill-planned and executed. It has to be 100% inclusive. You cannot exclude half of the economy and claim to be a uniform tax structure. The policy misadventure has paralysed the economy,” he said.
The duty on petrol went up by 240% and diesel by 400% under the Narendra Modi regime, though the crude prices came down sharply, Mr. Sharma said.
India was an influential country until four years ago, and now its ability to engage with its neighbours has considerably weakened, he said.
Mr. Sharma said that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre had moved away from the development path and the foreign policy India had adopted for generations and thereby weakened the country’s influence in the region and at the global level.
He said the 2019 elections were important for India because it was an aspirational country with young people constituting about 65% of a 1.3 billion population. “Indian democracy has faced challenges but the electorate is wise, and people know how to punish as well as elect governments,” he said.
“The Modi government rule had raised fundamental questions about ideologies. Can India afford uniformity imposed by a government?” he asked. K.V. Thomas, MP; Congress leader P.C. Chacko, district congress committee (DCC) president T.J. Vinod and Kollam DCC president Bindu Krishna were among those present at an interactive session organised at the Kerala Chamber hall.
Those who participated included representatives of various chambers of commerce and industry, builders’ associations as well as students from leading colleges in the city.