The GST regime leading to a concentration and centralization of political-economic power with the corporate-saffron regime at the centre depriving the states of their Constitutional power to levy indirect taxes which are the main source of state revenue in India has pushed them in to a debt trap. Demolition of states’ economic boundaries and integration of the economy in to a pan Indian unified market and the consequent loss of legitimate sources of their revenue have made the state budget- making itself a mockery. And the much trumpeted 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments extending vast resource mobilization powers to local bodies have become totally irrelevant with the GST offensive.
GST superimposed under the diktats of neoliberal centers has led to a galloping of the prices of all essential goods and services as it is imposed on the prices decided by corporate-market giants and MNCs to whom the power to determine prices was already transferred. As a result, while the vast majority of common people are suffering from the double burden of higher effective taxes and rising prices on the one hand, corporate profits are reaching new heights on the other. As a whole, India is experiencing hitherto unknown levels of inflation and price rise in the post-GST situation.
Still more significant is the case with the informal and unorganized sectors the sole source of livelihood and sustenance for more than 90 percent of Indian workforce. The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and innumerable self-employment avenues that account for more than half of India’s manufactured output and contribute a quarter of India’s export revenue are in doldrums as the pro-corporate GST regime has completely eliminated the scope for several tax exemptions, differential taxes, price support and protective measures extended to these sectors by central and state governments. Since GST is a pan-Indian unified tax structure and as the same rate will be applicable to all, the small enterprises are being forced to compete with the corporate entities. Same is the case with tens of millions of people depending on retail trade as corporate retailers backed by a nation-wide unified GST rate can easily impose their control over everything from production to final consumption. Collapse of industry and agriculture, growth in unemployment, inflation arising from corporate-enforced rise in the price of goods and services, inequality, deprivation of the workers, peasants, small retailers and the millions of self-employed people and so on are the emerging trends in the country.
The parliamentary opposition ranging from the Congress and regional parties to CPI (M) (the CPI (M) led LDF government in Kerala was among the first to extend support to Modi’s GST regime) is politically supporting the superimposed GST as per IMF-World Bank-WTO diktats for achieving “ease of doing business” and “investor-friendly” atmosphere in India in violation of its federal structure. With the highest GST rates in the world, reins of the economy is now with the most corrupt corporate hoarders, black marketeers and MNCs who are marking up the prices of all essential items, necessaries, medicines and that of all essential services cutting across state boarders. All the policy decisions pertaining to GST are vested in a supra-parliamentary, corporate-controlled body called GST Council which is arbitrarily fixing GST rates on the prices of goods and services as desired by corporate giants.
Therefore, an all-out offensive against GST that aims at corporate concentration of economic power in the centralized saffron state demolishing the federal structure of the Constitution. The task of repealing the anti-people and anti-federal GST should form one of the central issues people’s movements and of a people’s political program against corporate-saffron fascist regime and its supporters in the forthcoming general election. The CPI(ML) Red Star calls on all party committees to launch a people’s campaign and agitation against the GST uniting all like minded forces.
Polit Bureau, CPI(ML) Red Star.