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Congress can’t take credit for GST rate cut: Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday questioned the Congress claiming credit for reduction in GST rates, asking” “Is the GST Council under them?”

She also said the party should first finalise its stand on the tax regime.

“Congress wants to take credit on GST and being in opposition, they also want to say that government took action because of them. They should decide what is their position,” Sitharaman said at a press conference here.

“How are they making this claim? Is the GST council under them?”

The Congress on Friday said that the decision to cut GST rates was a vindication of its stand on an 18 per cent cap on tax under the regime.

Sitharaman said Congress wants to take credit for the new tax regime and also wants to criticise it.

“When it (constitutional amendment bill on GST) was passed, they said you are passing our bill… They wanted the credit and the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) repeatedly thanked the opposition,” she said.

“The GST Council was formed, and all state Finance Ministers are a part of it. The Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) might be the chairman, but all states are there and their issues were raised. If someone was dissatisfied, we being a sensitive government were forthcoming in making changes. We did it for the people.”

“Now they are feeling the government has done everything, what is the role of opposition. So they are saying both things. Congress wants to be both good cop and bad cop. They should take a stand on it,” the Minister, who is campaigning in the state for the assembly elections, said.

She also questioned if the Congress is ready to face criticism for not being able to implement Goods and Services Tax for a decade.

“Would they also accept criticism for not being able to implement GST for a decade? Since 2004 to 2013, they could not take the state governments in confidence. The states did not trust the Central government,” she said.

“They kept indulging in disruptive politics in Parliament and people kept rejecting them in every state. Even now, they do not know, they should speak clearly.”

In a major revamp of the GST tax structure, the GST Council on Friday removed 178 items from the highest 28 per cent category.

Only 50 products, including luxury and sin items, white goods, cement and paints, automobiles, aeroplane and yacht parts have been retained in the top 28 per cent slab.