Congress inciting Surat traders over GST: Smriti Irani

Ahmedabad: Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani today alleged that though small businessmen and traders in Surat are ready to embrace GST, Congress leaders are trying to “incite” them against the BJP government in Gujarat, which goes to polls next month.

Contesting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s charge that the GST and note ban “broke the legs” of Surat, India’s textile hub, Irani said traders and businessmen are ready to be tax compliant, and her ministry is doing everything to solve problems they are facing in shifting to the new indirect tax regime.

She said during her previous visits to Surat, traders, weavers, small businessmen and women working in the industry brought up before her some system-related issues and all possible help was extended to help make them tax compliant.

“But, since the (Assembly) polls are approaching, Congress leaders are trying to incite people,” Irani told reporters here.

“Yesterday, a delegation from Surat’s textile industry came to Delhi and gave a public statement that they are ready to embrace GST. They want to be tax complaint. They just want solution to some of the challenges posed by the new system,” she said.

Irani, who also holds the Information and Broadcasting portfolio, said the issues faced by them were conveyed to the GST Council for resolution. Even yesterday, she said, the powerful GST council was told about their concerns.

The process, Irani said, was going on for the last 2-3 months and several issues have already been resolved.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited Surat yesterday and said the “twin blows” of demonetisation and GST “broke the legs” of Surat, the textile and diamond hub of the country.

During his interaction with industry representatives, Gandhi assured them that if Congress was voted to power he will make structural changes to the GST.

The polling for the two-phase elections in the state will take place on December 9 and 14, and votes will be counted on December 18.