New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Friday presented the Business Line Changemaker of The Year award to the Goods and Services Tax Council (GST Council) that was accepted on behalf by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Soon after the BJP took a swipe at Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his often used ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ jibe and tweeted :

 

The award was shared by petitioners against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, who managed to get a colonial-era law against same-sex relations quashed in a historic judgment last September.

Congress has long criticized the BJP government of hurriedly implementing a tax regime that does more harm than good for the people it aims to serve. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too has been a vociferous critic of the GST, often attributing severe blow to small and non-organised sector businesses to GST and demonetisation.

Recently, addressing a convocation of the New Delhi Institute of Management (NDIM) in February, the former Prime Minister had said , “The small and unorganised sectors, which were vibrant and contributing to the generation of wealth and employment opportunities, have suffered in the wake of disastrous demonetisation and slipshod introduction and implementation of the GST.”

He had further said, “ Knee-jerk reactions and off the cuff announcements of grandiose schemes and unproductive projects have failed to lift the economy to its potential.”

At The Hindu Business Awards held in the national capital on Friday, Manmohan Singh spoke of severed trust between the government and businesses and how an eroded narrative has been built that will hurt the economy.

Singh without taking any names said there was no room for authoritarian impositions after the country opted for a democratic path for itself.

“Of late, many negative perceptions have been manufactured about business leaders; the business community, big and small, has been made to feel the wrath of coercive agencies,” he said.

“A hostile narrative has been built; this will sap not only the confidence of our own business leaders, it will also create doubts in the mind of foreign governments and business leaders. “Honest businessman and genuine entrepreneur must never be allowed to feel harassed by the petty revenue officials. Unfortunately, Trust between the government and the business stands eroded,” he said without elaborating.

There is a need to create an intellectual atmosphere that abets industriousness, innovation and imagination among the business community, he said, adding that the society, the government and the business stand to benefit from conditions of trust, lawfulness and fairness.

Singh noted that no change is permanent and the country has remained alive to the need for change and has progressed and prospered whenever society recognised and promoted change.

“Societies grow and progress when creativity is encouraged to challenge the status quo,” he said.
He also said it is vital to prepare all stakeholders for the coming change because changes produce some disruption, some pain and considerable discomfort.

 

With PTI inputs