Tax tamasha

MANASI PHADKE | Updated on January 17, 2018


GST, Amma Tax and a lot of farce!

July, 2016. 6:30 p.m. Netaji tiredly walks into the UPA office in New Delhi and barks an order for five samosas and masala chai.

Clever Guptaji (in concern): What is it, Sir? I’ve never seen you this tired before! Tch, tch, they really shouldn’t make innocent, lazy people attend Parliament. It is such exhausting work!

Netaji (groaning): Oh, the boredom! I tell you, the FM went on and on about “streamlining the cascading effect of taxes and the move from origin-based to destination-based taxes”. I can never quite figure out what the man is saying. There was only one interesting moment in his speech, when he spoke about “compensation for the revenue loss”. I agreed with him heartily on that, but Chidambaram wouldn’t allow me to express my gratitude.

CG (alarmed): Oh, Sir, thank God that Chidambaram Sir restrained you! The States with high levels of industrialisation collect VAT and sales tax. But they stand to lose out, as GST will imply that the destination States get the revenues. Thus, developed States opposed GST till they were assured that they would be compensated for the loss. The FM was talking about compensating the States, Sir, not compensating you! I hope you listened to PC and did not utter a word!

Netaji (uncomfortable): Oh, now don’t you start boring me, Guptaji. I have had enough of this stuff to last a lifetime.

CG (smiling): So Sir, could you participate in the debate at all?

Netaji (indignant): Participate? I tore the session apart with my yelling! You see, I am one of the few Chosen Ones by High Command.

CG: What? You are Harry Potter? The Chosen One?

Netaji (turning red): Now don’t you start getting clever, Guptaji! I meant, we are a small group of people in the inner circle of the High Command. So, when Rahul Baba pretended to fall asleep (that was our signal), we immediately started yelling that GST cannot go through because the PM himself opposed it when he was CM.

CG (dismayed): But you’ve been yelling the same thing for the past two years! What did the PM do?

Netaji (uncomfortable): Oh, he gave us a little wave from the other end of the House and smiled at us. (Suddenly gleeful) But heeheehee! He too became uncomfortable when The BJP Rajya Sabha Economist made a grand entrance into the Parliament later.

CG (interestedly): And, what was HE saying now?

Netaji (laughing heartily): He said the GST is not really a game changer. It is already implemented in 160 other countries, so the tax is not really “Indian at heart”. He also threatened to expose 27 other levies that seemed to be non-Indian. Heehee! That made them uncomfortable. Their own economist!

CG: Sir, did the AIADMK agree to the idea? Tamil Nadu says that as a “producer state”, it stands to lose out crores if the GST gets implemented.

Netaji (face clouding): Oh, they were making a noise alright. Chidambaram made an innocent statement that the GST should be debated properly as it is the “Mother” of all indirect tax reforms. And then, these AIADMK people got aggressive. One of them said they will support the Bill , but you have to name the tax as the “Amma tax”!

CG (mumbling): Yeah, only that was missing. Amma canteens, Amma water, theatres, and now, Amma tax! What did you do, Sir?

Netaji: Baba fell asleep. So on cue, we shouted that the GST cannot be passed because the PM opposed it when he was CM.

CG: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

The writer is a Pune-based economist

Published on August 04, 2016

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