What is in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet, wrote William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in his famous play Romeo and Juliet. The field is open to any playwright of our times to write a matching line about taxes in general and Goods and Services Tax in particular. All would support the playwright if he or she wrote that GST, called by any other name would not be less taxing to the already tax-tormented people in the land. One is prompted to remark that GST is a virtual acronym or synonym of the word Ghost, the manifested form of a dead person’s spirit, the grammatical exercise needing addition of just two letters H and O. There is more to be said about GST. A piece on WhatsApp platform doing rounds among humour-savvy Kannadigas, portraying a question-answer dialogue between two of them goes like this: Q: What is GST? A: Gotthilla Swami, Thalekediscobedi (meaning, not clear about it, but don’t bother about it unnecessarily).
The aforementioned closeness of GST to ghost may be ignored by many who favour GST compliance and dismiss the reality of ghosts. A witty analyst has rightly observed that a penalty for doing something wrong is fine, and a penalty for doing something right is tax. The authors of GST and the authority that has brought in the newly-christened levy on the nation’s diaspora would like to think that all are doing only right and, therefore, must cough up the tax at stipulated rates.
The style and scale of letting the literati across the land know about the glorious side to GST with the slogan “1-Tax, 1-Nation, 1-Market” by resorting to full-page, multicoloured hoarding-like advertisement on the front page of all major and minor periodicals this week must have cost the Union government a bomb, if only the publishers of the dailies get their due in cash, sooner or later. Sources in the government or the flock of pro-government freelancing correspondents to the print media have lost no time in extolling the benefits of falling in line with the novel financial reform, by highlighting the fall in the consumer price of a plethora of goods sought by people at large, apart from luxury SUVs (sports utility vehicles).
The architects of GST and the top brass in the government have given themselves a few months time for the tax-generated turmoil to blow over. One has to keep one’s fingers crossed until the day their sentiment proves right. However, choosing 12 midnight for ushering in the GST regime in a Parliament sitting at dead of night sounds baffling. When Sir Winston Churchill boastfully said that sun never sets upon the British Empire, George Bernard Shaw reacted saying that nobody trust an Englishman in the dark!