I thank Mazdoor Ekta Lehar for this excellent piece on Goods and Services Tax. Much has been written and talked on the subject in media and the press, which only confuses the content and intent of the GST.
The article in a simple language exposes precisely its content and intent in its very title. The article sharply brings out three key aspects of the legislation, exposing its class content:
- will lead to further concentration of capital
- will lead to further concentration of power to tax
- is aimed at extracting more from the working population
No wonder it is being hailed as the biggest economic reforms by the leader and associations of the corporate India. By giving it a jingoistic tag of “One Nation, One Tax, On Market”, it tries to confuse the working people, the small and medium producers, sellers, and buyers that it will benefit all, and the nation.
However, while being in general interest of capitalism, it is in particular interest of monopoly capital that dominates the economy, and extract maximum rate of profits for itself, while squeezing, everyone else in the economy. This is yet another step taken in the interest of the ruling class – in this case the big bourgeoisie. It has being in the making for past over 15 years, with all parties of the big bourgeoisies closely associated in framing it.
The heavy reliance on the information technology for implementing this step will only accelerate the destruction of small and medium enterprise. As has been pointed out, those who don’t have access to the technology, will have to invest in it, or hire services. This will be recurring costs in hardware, software, anti-virus packages, internet data, etc, increasing the cost of operation.
Like any other legislation of the Indian state this legislation also is open to different interpretation by by different practitioners, leaving the field open to misinterpretation and harassment, despite all promises being made to the contrary. While the big companies can hire army of chartered accountants and lawyers for advice, to file returns and fight cases, the smaller enterprises and traders have to act with caution, that means paying taxes, even where it may not be applicable, for the fear that the taxman can now catch very easily, with all data being available electronically at centralised database. It is an open secret that the job of the charted accounts hired by large corporates in the present system is to advice corporate to find ways and means to save taxes for them. Smaller and medium enterprises find it difficult either to hire such charted accountants or indulge in litigation.
It is heartening to see that lakhs of small and medium-scale producers and traders have come out on the streets in protest against the GST. It shows that working people and producer who do not in any way belong to the league of the big monopoly houses, understand the consequences, are becoming aware of the bleak future that awaits them, and are coming out on the streets. As the situation unfolds and the impact becomes evident this is only going to increase.
The PM described this as 'good and simple tax' borrowing a phrase that had been coined by tax experts earlier, and also something that had been touted by senior leaders of the Congress party. The Congress has gone so far as to suggest that the BJP led Government actually appropriated what was its brainchild, even though it did not have the muscle to pass it through Parliament in the past.
What this teaches us that the bourgeoisie and their parties were actually united in the passage of this law, and even the mock debates that take place in Parliament were actually bogus and this was part of the agenda all along. The Indian bourgeoisie has been clamouring for a simple and efficient method of looting the people, and wanted to get rid of antiquated and old-fashioned tax regimes that were diverse across the country, and amongst the different states, so that it would have unfettered access to plunder. Furthermore, the present taxation rate of 18% is an onerous burden on the backs of the millions of people who are already groaning under constantly rising prices.
In the present context, all the big bodies which serve as umbrellas for the bourgeoisie and indeed for the monopoly capitalists such as the CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM have not been able to contain their glee that at long last their dream has come true. Besides having the ability to rake in big bucks, it will also have the impact of driving out many small businesses and manufacturers out of business, thereby offering ever increasing opportunities for the money bags. This is effected through the requirement that even very small businesses must have GST registration. You have also offered a box-item in the article that explains the additional aspects of the new regime called 'input tax credit' which is used to drive out those who would not comply with GST registration. Other consequences would be even higher powers with the Central government dealing a blow to federalism and the new tax would curb the powers of the State governments to collect revenues.
Let the working class be educated on what the new GST regime actually means. Your article goes a long way in this direction.