With the Centre mulling to bring real estate under Goods and Services Tax (GST) ambit, the Congress Party on Friday said that the decision would prove to be a disaster. "In the next meeting (November 9) itself, we are addressing one of the problem areas or at least (having) discussion (on) it".
Congress leader Raju Waghmare said, "BJP and Arun Jaitley have chose to take this country in a pothole".
Jaitley also discussed Indo-US Economic Cooperation, with specific focus on how bilateral trade and investment can be improved between the two countries. "And they are all answerable to the law and pay their taxes", he said. While builders will get input tax credit for GST paid on steel, cement, paint and sanitary and electrical fittings, if land purchase faces the new levy then the credit base will go up and so will the gain to the buyer. "I personally believe that there is a strong case to bring real estate into the GST", Jaitley said.
"If you see the long-term impact of it, demonetisation brought in more digitised transactions; it brought the issue to the centerstage".
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The finance minister also said that India has historically had one of the least efficient tax systems in the world, with a small tax base. Jaitley said some people had "misunderstood" the objective of demonetisation "which wasn't to confiscate somebody's currency". Those objectives are for the long-term. They still have to account for it.
Jaitley emphasised that systematic efforts to challenge the "shadow economy" were made only recently.
Jaitley said the reduction in eventual expenditure coupled with incentivising people to enter the tax net may also help reduce the size of "shadow economy". "In the last few years, the bulk of the increase in tax payers has not been in terms of number of companies but individuals who are coming into the tax net", he said. The government was able to trace out about 1.8 million people whose deposits are disproportionate to their normal incomes.
Jaitley, who is on a week-long visit to the United States, is leading a high-powered Indian delegation to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World bank.
Jaitley, who participated in an Interactive Seminar organised by FICCI on "India Opportunity", opined that the Indian economy is poised for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, backed by the Government of India's focus on implementing structural reforms.
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