Twitter was flooded with amused reactions and memes after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, 1 August, said in Parliament that the government will not charge Goods and Services Tax (GST) on crematorium, funeral, burial, or mortuary services.
"There's no GST on crematorium, burial, mortuary, and funeral services. They are fully exempt from GST. Standard rates of GST will be imposed on construction that may be carried out for a crematorium," Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha, responding to a debate on price rise.
"After GST on milk, curd, paneer, bed, now gave us a big relaxation by NOT keeping GST on crematorium, burial, funeral, and mortuary," a branch of the Congress party tweeted.
Several netizens also mocked the finance minister's remarks.
"The Opposition talks about crematoriums and asks if the government will tax corpses. This is saddening. Their ministers are also sitting in the GST Council, I don't take these decisions alone. Ministers from all states sit in the GST council... Today you have turned the tables as if Modi ji has taken the decision," Sitharaman had said in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
What Else Did the Finance Minister Say?
Responding to criticism in the Lok Sabha over price rise, hike in GST, and unemployment, Sitharaman said that even though global growth rates had been downgraded in recent times, India still remains the fastest growing economy.
"India has been reduced in terms of the growth it was expected to achieve, but still we remain the fastest-growing. If it was with 8.2 percent (earlier), now it may be 7.4 percent," she said.
"Even as the entire globe's growth is being reviewed, re-assessed, re-estimated, each time, we remain at the highest," the finance minister added.
Several Opposition parties had attacked the central government over the issue of price rise on Monday, calling it "unacceptable."
Sitharaman also said that there had never been a calamity like COVID-19.
"Looking at India today, compared to what is happening in the rest of the world. Whether it was in 2008 or before that, we've never seen a calamity of this kind. We've never seen a pandemic of this kind," she said.
The minister also acknowledged that the country had problems but said that all must work together to transcend them.
"It is not that the country doesn't have problems. We have to work together to do it and we are trying to do it. But even as we are trying to do it, and even as the global agencies say other countries are suffering but India is like this, it is a moment that we will all have to be true to ourselves," she said.
'No Question of India Getting Into Recession': Sitharaman
Further, responding to claims that India was on the verge of recession, Sitharaman said that there was no question of it happening.
"The GDP of the US fell 0.9 percent in the second quarter, following a 1.6 percent decline in the first quarter, marking a start of they themselves call an unofficial recession," she said, adding, "There is no question of India getting into recession or stagflation."
The finance minister also said that despite global imbalances caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, the Centre had been successful in keeping inflation below 7 percent.
Meanwhile, Congress MPs staged a walkout in protest against Sitharaman's speech on price rise.
Ahead of the speech, several MPs of the Opposition parties had slammed the Centre over the rise in prices and GST.
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