Ruling Bharatiya Janata party MP and former Union Minister for Commerce, Law and Justice Subramanian Swamy has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to direct the complete stay of all operations of the present constituted Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) till it is restructured according to India’s national interest and after security certification by the Home Ministry.
Swamy has said in his letter that he is happy to learn from the media that the Prime Minister had taken a review meeting of Finance Ministry officials on the question of GST/GSTN implementation.
Significantly Newsroom24x7.com took the lead and was the first to bring in focus the irregularities in the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). Newsroom24x7 also underscored constitutional points to emphasise the illegality of entrusting the implementation to GST to GSTN – a Private Limited Company.
Swamy has pointed out in his latter that GSTN is a data processing and tax revenue collecting private company that was never security cleared by the Home Ministry. This is a mandatory requirement, he has emphashised.
Bringing to the notice of the Prime Minister that “some Finance Ministry civil servants as well as the illegally appointed person-designated as the chairman of GSTN are telling the press that the GSTN, as presently constituted, will continue without any hindrance”, Swamy has urged the Prime Minister to order the stay of all operations of the present GSTN as “it is illegal because it never obtained security clearance from the Home Ministry; and it is dominated by not only private institutions that are together holding majority shares in the GSTN Private Limited Company but these private institutions are controlled by foreign shareholders. For example, 65% to 80% of ICICI and HDFC share holdings are owned by foreigners, Swamy has pointed out and asserted that GSTN needs to be restructured as it is foreign controlled.
Another important point Swamy has raised is that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has not been allowed to audit the financial transactions of GSTN that would run into lakhs of crores of rupees once GST is implemented. Hence, he has pointed out that there is a “reckless disregard” to the use of public funds to the benefit of private shareholders and employees. Elaborating further, he has said in his letter that “the CEO of GSTN gets an annual salary of over Rs 10 million, House rent allowance of Rs. 100,000, free car and travel, telephone, wifi network at home, club membership, medical reimbursement, ITA and so onbeside performance linked incentive bonus up to 50% of the basic salary plus DA. Never in the history of any Government has any officer got this level of remuneration.”
Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the Indian Revenue Service Association has unimously resolved that the GSTN is a facility which can be duplicated by the experience of the Finance Ministry’s data processing of Income Tax receipts with much greater experience and efficiency by the CBEC.
Drawing attention to the computer programming supposed to be done by GSTN which has been outsourced to Infosys at a huge payment of Rs. 6000 million of which Rs. 4000 million has already been paid to the company, Swamy has revealed that Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha’s wife was made a Director of Infosys just after the contract was signed.
According to Swamy, the data obtained by private parties and foreign shareholders of the indirect tax dues and payment of Indian tax payers as well as the details of travel from the point of manufacturing to the point of sale will help private parties to rig National Stock Exchange outcomes. He has also made the allegation that this is why the decision was taken to create a subsidiary of NSE headed by a crony of the former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and this subsidiary holds 10% shares of GSTN. This amounts to legitimising the offence of inside trading, he has observed.
Swamy has urged the PM to restructure GSTN with Government owned financial institutions in place of private banks and private companies. The data processing can be handed over to the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). The continuation of the present system with marginal amendments will be set aside by the Supreme Court on a PIL as unconstitutional and not being in public interest, he has said in his letter.
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