Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday convened a crucial one-hour brainstorming meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP President Amit Shah, in view of protests by textile traders across the country, particularly in poll-bound Gujarat, against complexities in the Goods and Services Tax (GST).The meeting discussed an immediate proposal to the GST Council to change provisions that go against the government’s policy of ease of doing business. After a call from the PMO, Shah skipped a visit to Kerala, where he was scheduled to walk through Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s village as part of the party’s 15-day yatra in the state. He flew instead to Delhi from Mangalore. Jaitley also joined them in the meeting, soon after returning from an official visit to Bangladesh.
Modi and Shah wanted Jaitley to push for relief in the GST in its Council meeting scheduled in Vigyan Bhavan here on Friday, PMO sources said. Jaitley is chairman of the GST Council and state finance ministers are its members.A Constitution amendment that facilitated the national tax in July mandates any tweaking in the GST only by the council. According to the law, the Centre cannot take any unilateral decision on the next indirect tax.On Wednesday evening, the PM promised to remove hurdles faced by small traders due to the GST, and reverse the current economic slowdown while asserting not to give up on their long-range goals.
Sources said the meeting also reviewed preparations for the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December, where textile traders have taken to streets against some provisions of the GST. Jaitley has been made the Gujarat poll in-charge. It is believed that Modi and Shah were closeted for some time even after Jaitley left, to discuss organisational changes in the party that are overdue.Earlier, the Congress said its finance ministers in states will forcefully raise at the GST Council meeting the impact of the “flawed” the taxation scheme on the textile sector. The industry witnessed violent protests and strikes after the implementation of the new tax. It is believed that in the aftermath of the GST, an estimated 15 lakh people have lost jobs in the textile sector, and losses worth Rs 40,000 crore have been reported across the country till September.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had gone to textile hub Surat in Gujarat last month and met shopkeepers, entrepreneurs and representatives of unorganised labour in textiles, embroidery and jewellery sectors. They told Rahul about job losses and the GST’s impact on their livelihood.
Ease of Business
Meeting discussed an immediate proposal to GST Council to change provisions that go against govt policy of ease of doing business.There have been protests by textile traders across states