In response to my blog ‘Dissent or Disruption – The Congress Party’s Position on GST’, I have received a response through a blog “How Congress will block GST” written by my friend Mani Shankar Aiyar. Since he was the leading dissenter on behalf of his party, I have no reason to doubt that he represents the views of the Indian National Congress. Vide this blog, he gives an interesting reasoning for blocking the GST. He claims that alcohol for human consumption is taxed at a very high rate by the State governments. He argues to avoid costly alcohol people resort to ‘hooch’. This results in revenue loss, malpractices and has even led to death of many people caught in the web of illicit liquor. He, therefore, believes that liquor should be brought within the GST instead of leaving it to the taxing purview of the States so that it can be taxed at the constitutional limit of 18% that the Congress party now proposes. Obviously, the UPA’s two eminent Finance Ministers were not struck by the wisdom that Mani Shankar Aiyar possesses. If Mani’s blog is to be believed, Congress party’s position is to make alcohol cheaper so that people do not resort to ‘hooch’. Is this Congress Party’s concept of a comprehensive GST that alcohol becomes cheaper? Is this amongst the basis for Congress Party’s opposition to the GST ?
I hope the Congress party either clarifies its position or confirms Mani’s view.