Veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today launched a fresh attack on the government, saying that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had not applied his mind while rolling out GST and should be removed from his post.
Sinha, who served as finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, said demonetisation has not achieved its goal of flushing black money out of the system.
He also charged the current regime with resorting to lies on the note ban and the new tax regime.
“The finance minister did not apply his mind while rolling out the Goods and Services Tax and that’s why he is tinkering with GST everyday,” Sinha told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by former Bihar speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary on reservation.
Jaitley, he added, has made a mess of GST. “The prime minister should bring a new finance minister. I am saying this with full responsibility,” Sinha said.
The former Union minister’s comment came on a day the GST Council chaired by Jaitley met in Guwahati to lower the tax rate on many household items, from the top 28 per cent slab to 18 per cent.
Complete overhaul needed
“Now the government is saying that out of 227 items, tax rates will be brought down from 28 to 18 per cent on around 200 items,” Sinha said.
He asked whether the reduction would lead to a decline in revenue collections.
“The current structure of GST is a faulty one and that’s why the government is making amendments everyday,” Sinha alleged. In his view, “tinkering” with the GST will not serve the purpose, what is needed is a complete overhaul.
In September, Sinha had blamed Jaitley for messing up the country’s economy. Jaitley returned the barb by caustically referring Sinha as “a job applicant at 80”.
Sinha has suggested that a committee be formed under economist Vijay Kelkar, who had earlier headed a committee on GST, for advising the government on effective and efficient implementation of the tax.
“After one year of demonetisation, we can say that it could not wipe out black money,” he said.
“Both demonetisation and GST have brought down the pace of the economy,” he said.
The attorney general had submitted before the apex court that the government hoped Rs. 4–5 lakh crore would not return to the system, but that did not happen, he said. “Around 99 per cent money got deposited in the banks.”
People, he added, had deposited money in huge amounts in banks. “A raid raj is going on across the country and cases are being registered under Income Tax Act. Years will go in deciding whether the deposited money was black money or not,” the former finance minister said.
Ridiculing statements made by some Union ministers that stone pelting has come down in Jammu and Kashmir after the note ban, Sinha said the government was trying to give demonetisation credit for everything.
“The government is publicising it as a success but the fact of the matter is that it has not achieved its objective,” Sinha said, adding that he has taken “sanyas” from electoral politics.