Congress member Shaktisinh Gohil on Monday said in Parliament that the government that cannot clear the GST dues of states has no right to squander resources on the Central Vista project, as the party flagged concerns about the impact on the common man of the savage increase in prices of essential commodities.
Participating in the debate on the appropriation bill in the Rajya Sabha, Gohil said: “There is mention of transfer of funds to the states. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said a few days ago GST dues haven’t been cleared even to BJP states. The non-BJP states aren’t the only sufferers.
“In 2019, the finance minister had said GST is a matter of trust. If you don’t have money to give legitimate dues of the state, you have no right to squander money on building new parliamentary building. Taxpayers’ money is not for luxury; why are we wasting it on the Central Vista project?”
Gohil continued: “If we don’t have money to give concession to senior citizens and the disabled in railways because of the pandemic-induced financial strain, why waste money on fancy projects?
“You said ‘we will impose cess to collect revenue, if needed, to compensate the states for GST’. The money collected through cess was supposed to be kept in a separate fund. But the CAG found that the central government kept the money in its own account. Who will be punished for this?”
Gohil also pointed to the CAG report on inferior quality equipment, material and clothing for soldiers stationed at higher altitudes.
The party’s communications chief Randeep Surjewala said: “Diesel price for bulk users has been increased from Rs 86.67 to Rs 115 per litre. This will push up the cost of rail travel and freight movement. Manufacturing cost will increase, pushing up the prices of all commodities. Railways and Army are the bulk users of diesel. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given contract of diesel supply to railways to two private companies. Railways buy 65 litres of diesel every day.”
He added: “Edible oil has gone up by 67 per cent, rajma by 100 per cent, chickpeas and rice by 67 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. Pulses, flour and other items have also become costly.”
Surjewala referred to reports that companies were planning to raise the prices of soap, detergent, toothpaste, tea, coffee, biscuits, juices etc by 10-15 per cent again after similar hikes in February. This was betrayal by Modi government after winning four state elections, he said.