NEW DELHI, Jan 13, (Agencies): India’s main opposition Congress party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and take “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, its leader Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday.
Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third largest economy. But its chaotic implementation and complexities months after a shock ban by Modi on high value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth – badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.
Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multi-year low in India due to the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST”.
“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of (India’s economic) liberalisation, we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.” He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India – whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.
Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country”. (RTRS)