AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday joined the business community across India in a tweet against the BJP-led central government’s move to allow the Enforcement Directorate to share information with the GST Network (GSTN). expressed solidarity.
The party’s strategic positioning is another attempt to siphon off support from the business community, who are known to be staunch supporters of the BJP and remained associated with the saffron party in the national capital through the AAP waves in 2015 and 2020.
GSTN handles the technology backbone of the indirect tax regime and is the repository of all GST related information including returns, tax filing and other compliances. As per an amendment to the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, GSTN has been included in the list of entities with whom the ED will share information.
“A large section of traders are non-compliant with GST – some unknowingly and some intentionally. A few days ago, the central government also brought GSTN under the purview of the Enforcement Directorate, which means that if a trader does not deposit GST, the ED can directly arrest that person and bail will also not be given,” Kejriwal said. tweeted in Hindi.
A large proportion of traders do not pay GST – some out of compulsion, some intentionally. A few days ago, the central government also included GST in ED. Means now if a businessman does not pay GST, then ED will arrest him directly and bail will not be given. The GST system is so complex that those who…— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) 11 July 2023
Describing the move as “very dangerous”, Kejriwal said traders would be busy protecting themselves from the Enforcement Directorate instead of concentrating on their business. He warned that the country’s small traders would come under the net of the law and “no one will be spared”.
Kejriwal’s tweet came ahead of the 50th meeting of the GST Council to be chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday.
According to AAP sources, Delhi’s Finance Minister Atishi and Punjab’s Finance Minister Harpal Cheema opposed the central government’s move in the GST meeting, after which there was a heated argument with Nirmala Sitharaman.
Speaking to News18, AAP minister Saurabh Bhardwaj said: “I think the central government is creating a new tool to harass traders in this country. The PMLA was originally designed to check the financing of terrorism, check drug cartels. It was not meant for the common man. If someone makes a mistake in GST filing, which anyone can do because GST is very complex, you cannot book them under PMLA. You cannot put them in jail until they prove themselves innocent. This is totally wrong. This was not the intention of the MPs when they brought the PMLA. This is an exercise to silence all those individuals who have started questioning the central government.
“BJP believes that through polarisation, they will be able to manage the business community. But I don’t think it is possible. If you harm their life, if you put their life and liberty in danger, they will be very angry with the central government,” he said.
Asked if you see any opportunity in this, Bhardwaj said: “We don’t see any opportunity here. We believe this is completely illegal and must be stopped.”
In November last year, the government allowed the ED to share information on economic offenders with 15 more agencies, including the SFIO, CCI and the NIA. Following that notification, the ED, which primarily deals with cases of money laundering and violation of foreign exchange laws, was allowed to share data with a total of 25 agencies, including the 10 specified earlier.
The list also includes CBI, RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, Intelligence Bureau and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). With the inclusion of GSTN, the list of entities now stands at 26.