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Are Economists Like Arvind Subramaniam Stupid, Asks P Chidambaram To PM Modi

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| December 1 , 2017 , 13:38 IST

Known for his blunt attitude and vocal personality, Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for calling Congress's demand of concluding the Goods and Services Tax at 18 percent instead of 28 percent a "Grand Stupid Thought".

Reminding the ruling party of expert economists including the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) of government Dr Arvind Subramanian supporting the idea, Chidambaram questioned Modi's mindset on the matter.

While addressing the rally at Gujarat's Morbi on Wednesday, PM Modi has said, "Some intellectuals and economists are misleading the country. Congress wants the same 18% tax on something as essential as salt and something as expensive as Rs 5 crore worth car."

He added, "They want 28% tax on alcohol and costly cigarettes to be reduced to 18%. Do you want to sell cheap alcohol and spread cancer by selling cheap cigarettes? This is nothing but a Grand Stupid Thought. There can't be any bigger anti-poor and anti-middle class thought."

Irked by Modi's inconsiderate behaviour, Chidambaram dug out an earlier report presented by the CEA-led committee in 2015 which stated that the based on a revenue-neutral rate (RNR) of 15-15.5 percent, the standard rate of GST should be 17-18 percent.

He further questioned that why the normal GST rate couldn't be 15 percent with the RNR plus rate on luxury goods as 18 percent. The leader added another tweet stating, "Tax and spend is the credo of the BJP government. Example: when crude oil prices fell by 50%, prices of petrol and diesel remained the same."

Congress leaders have criticised the implementation of GST from the very beginning and the party's vice-President Rahul Gandhi even called the economic reform "Gabbar Singh Tax". Chidambaram's reference of CEA Subramanian pointed to his statement in Ahmedabad University.

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While addressing the young graduates at the convocation ceremony, Arvind has admitted, "India’s economic development is good but not spectacular." In relation to other countries, he believes, "the economy hasn’t performed well in terms of poverty elimination, providing everyone with basic health and education, providing world-class universities."

Talking about the implementation of GST, Subramanian without hesitation affirmed, "One cannot hide the fact that there have been many glitches in the implementation of GST." However, he further went on to back the efforts made by GST council to take in the related concerns while coming up with timely responses.