Mudda panel agrees GST implementation is hurting the country, especially business community

On Saturday’s edition of Mudda, the first segment looked at the results of the GST meeting while the second pondered whether China is still mounting an offence in Doklam. The panel comprised Niranjan Poddar of the Vyapari Kalyan Sangh; Rajat Mehra, economist; Ashwani Upadhyay, BJP spokesperson; Surendra Rajput, Congress spokesperson; Govind Pant Raju, APN Consulting Editor and Col (Retd) Shivdan Singh, defence expert. The show was anchored by Anant.

The debate was opened by Poddar, who thanked APN for holding this debate “on behalf of the entire business community.” His answer to whether the GST meeting addressed and is likely to solve the issues faced by small and medium businesses since GST was rolled out three months ago, was in the negative. He said: “We are thankful that the government listened to us and brought in some relief but problems still plague us and, frankly, some of the changes proposed are just eyewash.” He went on to explain that most businesses run on credit and not on immediate cash payment, “so if I receive my payments only three months after my product has left my shop but pay the tax in advance, how do I run my business.” He added: “Moreover, there is no refund mechanism established for domestic businesses. The tax slab was made on the basis of the utility of the items but this is far from practical. Earlier a manufacturer below the slab of Rs 1.5 crore was exempted from excise duty but that too has now changed. Now, the small and medium businesses also fall under it.” Calling the GST “the Duckworth-Lewis Method,” he said: “Just like in cricket, no one understands it.” He also defended the business community, saying: “We add to the country’s finances and treasury. It’s a community that runs charities – hospitals, schools, colleges, etc. I am not a thief, I want to pay my taxes but just because I do not agree with the government on a certain thing, it is unreasonable to label me a thief.”

Mehra said: “GST has had a negative impact on the economy. The step taken yesterday was only a partial incremental baby step.” He said: “To make matters worse, instead of accepting that the reverse change mechanism was a big failure, the government has introduced some changes into it. They should have repealed Sections 93 and 94 but they have just been deferred.” He also said that the “country’s business—organised and unorganised—is all interwoven. Take, for example, the textile industry; since GST came in, the entire value chain has taken a hit.”

Upadhyay seemed stung by all this criticism and defended his party’s stand by saying: “You can’t decide the effect of GST just on the basis of what one businessman or one economist has to say. The parliament passed GST, it was not just BJP ministers who voted for it. Also, a large body of economists, chartered accountants and counsels decided the process.”

Rajput was in a satirical mood today. Likening the implementation of GST to taking out someone’s blood with a syringe, he said: “You start complaining when the person screams in pain. My advice is, stop sucking their blood.” He also lashed out at Upadhyay, saying: “You don’t like Niranjan Poddar today because he is complaining that you have taken out too much of his blood.” He went on to say: “I am going to give you some solutions but first I request you (BJP) to listen to some abuse, though I will not use any unparliamentary word.” He said: “You have made life miserable for businesses and businessmen. You have turned this country’s people into guinea pigs and every three months you come up with a new experiment to torture them.” “To be able to catch two bad crocodiles, you have spread poison in the entire lake and are going to kill all the fish. That’s not the way to catch crocodiles,” he added angrily.

Raju said: “It is clear that the government is concerned and even worried about the financial situation in the country. In these conditions if the PM thinks that an economic council can rightly guide the government, it is a good step.” He added that “bringing such a complex variety of tax under one umbrella is in itself a very complicated step but the one affirmative action I see in all this is that every state government as well as the centre is willing and ready to face the issue together.”

The second part of Mudda was opened by Col Singh: “Don’t worry, there is no tension or danger to India at the India-Chinese border regarding Doklam,” he said. “Whatever China is doing there now is well within its own boundary. Of course, our forces are still positioned there and are on alert.”

Upadhyay felt that “the opposition has run out of debates so they fabricate issues. I feel if at least the media would not pay attention to these fake issues, we will fare much better,” he said.

Rajput said: “Our forces are professional and there is no doubt that we can defeat all enemies.” At this Upadhyay taunted him with “I hope you don’t need proof for that like Rahul Gandhi did for the surgical strike.” This led to an angry tirade between the two that lasted several minutes in spite of everyone, including Rajput, saying that matters of national security should not be used for political advancement and that it was important for all parties to unite in the face of any danger from an outsider.

Raju said: “There should be no dispute regarding the question that Rahul Gandhi asked because he was asking to be informed on behalf of the people as the Leader of the Opposition and he has every right to do so.”

-Compiled by Shailaja Paramathma