Replace private companies in GST network with govt firms: Subramanian Swamy

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BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on September 5 said it may not be possible to implement GST unless private companies are replaced by state-owned firms in the GSTN, the backbone for putting in place the new indirect tax regime.

Accusing the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram of his failure to obtain the necessary security clearance while setting up the GST Network (GSTN), Swamy said the whole process could be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Speaking at a book release function, he said that in the “normal” course security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs should have been obtained as GSTN would be handling sensitive tax data.

The government of India holds 24.5 per cent stake in GSTN while state governments together hold another 24.5 per cent. The balance 51 per cent equity is with non-government financial institutions, like HDFC Bank, HDFC Ltd, ICICI Bank, NSE Strategic Investment Corporation and LIC Housing Finance.

GSTN cannot take off unless you first get security clearance,” Swamy said while pointing out that even the Rajya Sabha Select Committee that scrutinised the GST Bill had said that presence of private companies, with significant foreign holding, in GSTN is not “desirable”.

“It (GSTN) will not be able to pass the Home Ministry security clearance until the Rajya Sabha Select Committee unanimous recommendation is implemented and HDFC Bank, NSE, LIC Housing Finance and ICICI Bank are all removed and replaced by (public sector banks) because tax data is sensitive. It is confidential. We cannot allow foreigners the right to get this data,” Swamy said.

He also made a case for “prosecution” of Chidambaram.

The BJP Rajya Sabha member said the present equity structure of GSTN is “anti-national” and he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.

“I am told”, Swamy said that the Prime Minister has enquired from officers regarding the issues raised by him.

The MP also said he would be raising the issue in Parliament through a special resolution.

The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is the special purpose vehicle that was formed under the previous UPA regime to set up the information technology framework for rolling out the indirect tax regime that will replace a string of local levies.

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