PUNE: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman admitted before a group of businessmen and taxation experts that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) framework may still have some flaws two years since its introduction, but sharply advised them against “damning” a law that has been passed by Parliament with widespread approval.
Sitharaman’s comment came during an interaction with a group of businessmen, entrepreneurs and chartered accountants in Pune.
A cost accountant attending the event offered suggestions to rectify “certain problems” in the GST structure. “If these concerns are addressed, much of the burden can be eased without even changing the structure of the tax regime,” the man was heard saying in the video. “Everybody will be happy, and it will turn into a Goods and ‘Simple’ Tax. As of today, everybody from industry leaders to consultants and auditors are cursing the government…”
But Sitharaman lost her cool and asked the taxation expert to stand down. “I am sorry, but I object,” she said. “After a long time, this country – with so many parties in Parliament and all the state governments working together – has come up with something. Now, we can’t suddenly say: What a goddamned structure this is. It is giving us this pain…”
The Finance Minister went on to remind the entrepreneur that it has only been two years since the GST was introduced. “I wish it could meet your satisfaction from day one, and I’m sorry it couldn’t do so. As you — together with all of us — are party to (creating the GST), let’s own up to it,” she said.
The Finance Minister’s Office later tweeted out a clarification, pointing out that she had asked the cost accountant to meet her and put forth suggestions on improving the GST framework.