New Delhi: Three bills on the much-awaited Goods & Services Tax (GST) will see light of day in the winter session of Parliament beginning Wednesday, but the government’s prestige legislation is all set to hit a Subramanian Swamy block.

The BJP Rajya Sabha MP has objected to private players being involved in setting up the infrastructure of the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) and told  that he will take up the matter in the Supreme Court.

 This comes at a time when the Centre and state governments have finally come together in agreement over GST and come out with a four slab structure.

Swamy said he is approaching the Supreme Court as he feared sensitive GST data might fall into the hands of private players and “foreign interests” if the Centre goes ahead with the current structure.

I have sent half a dozen letters to the Prime Minister in this connection. He has acknowledged it. I have also sent the copies to BJP president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar,” Swamy told :

  “The GSTN will be controlled by private players with majority foreign shareholder organisations like HDFC Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd, LIC Housing Finance Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd and NSE Strategic Investment Corp Ltd. No opportunity was given to Indian companies with majority Indian shareholdings and nationalised banks to become shareholders. It poses a serious threat. I am challenging it before the Supreme Court in the national interest”

According to Swamy, in 2011 when Pranab Mukherjee was Finance Minister, the Centre had decided that GSTN would be owned by three government stakeholders: the Central government, the state governments and the Centre-owned National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL). Training his guns on former finance minister P Chidambaram, Swamy said that he had dropped NSDL and added five private players making it look like a private body for profits.

The Constitution Amendment Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha in its report accessed by News18 has expressed serious concerns over the structure of GSTN. The report said, “The committee noted that the non-government shareholding in GSTN is dominated by private banks, and this is not desirable. It recommended that the non-government institution shareholding be limited to public sector banks and financial institutions.”

Swamy has forwarded all his correspondence on the GSTN with the Centre to President Pranab Mukherjee, informing him that he was free for any consultation on the subject. He said that the Comptroller and Auditor General had no jurisdiction over the GSTN in its current form and it could lead to a huge scam. He has also questioned the rationale behind outsourcing computer programming to private IT companies alleging that mandatory procedures were not followed before awarding such contracts.

“I once again strongly urge the Prime Minister Modi to direct the complete stay of all operations of the presently constituted GSTN. At the same time I will also be moving the SC seeking cancellation of it,” he said.

News 18, 15th November 2016