Gujarat: Opposition unhappy with GST Amendment Bill to levy 28% tax on online gaming

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The Gujarat Assembly passed the Gujarat Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 on September 13. However, the opposition does not seem to be supportive of the decision which involves levying 28% tax rate on online gaming, casinos and horse racing.

Congress MLAs claimed that the new GST law will promote gambling and push the youth towards the illegal activity, harming their future. Similarly, AAP MLA Umesh Makwana suggested to slash the salaries of legislators if the government is falling short of revenue.

Makwana stated that he had written to chief minister Bhupendra Patel a month back, asking him to ban adverts of online gambling platforms on Gujarati television channels.

“I am sorry to say that instead of banning such advertisements, the finance minister has brought in a Bill that literally permits people to gamble. My party and I are ready to support the Bill only if the government assures that no gambling will be permitted in Gujarat — online or offline,” said Makwana on the decision to amend the GST law as quoted by The Indian Express.

“If the finance minister is really falling short of money to run the government, then let the salaries of all MLAs be cut by 50%. Do not give permission for gambling,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA CJ Chavda also spoke on the matter saying that Gujarat is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and so they do not support the Bill. He pointed out that everyone knows what had happened in the Mahabharata when the Kauravas and Pandavas were allowed to gamble.

“Lord Krishna was there to save the honour of Draupadi. But now Lord Krishna is not there. Who will save those who gamble and lose,” he asked.

Responding to the questions posed by the opposition, BJP MLA Manisha Vakil stated that the increased GST rate will, in fact, help in reducing addiction among people. She explained how users could play online games multiple times due to lower tax rate previously, but with the increased tax levy they will be discouraged to return to the platforms too often.