Will end atmosphere of fear, says Kejriwal as he makes 5 more promises

After promising 300 units of free electricity during his previous visit to Gujarat, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday made five more promises, including ending atmosphere of fear, if his party is elected to power in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Interacting with businessmen of Saurashtra at a town hall organised by the AAP in Rajkot, Kejriwal said, “Today, I make five promises to the businessmen of Gujarat. We will bring an end to the atmosphere of fear. As of now, every businessman, every industrialist is fearful. You should be able to run your businesses without fear and in a peaceful atmosphere. Secondly, we will respect (you). Every businessman, industrialist wants respect… Third, we will weed out corruption. Only the Aam Aadmi Party, and no one else in the country, can do this. We will get rid of corruption by being kattar imaandar (hardline honest) and give a corruption-free administration,” Kejriwal said while interacting with businessmen.

As the fourth promise, the Delhi CM assured to clear pending VAT refunds within six months and to simplify GST administration by making it make it pro-people. “We will make you a partner in the Gujarat government by forming a government body comprising representatives from every sector, beginning from MSMEs to big industries, and the solutions to issues you suggest will be implemented by the government,” the Delhi CM added as fifth promise.

Kejriwal said that Delhi government gives doorstep delivery of 300 government services. “We have almost weeded out corruption… Delhi government’s 300 services, which cover almost everything (are available at doorstep)… Shouldn’t this system be there in Gujarat also,” asked Kejriwal. Traders, businessmen and industrialists complained about issues, including officials demanding bribe to clear GST refunds to businessmen, “arbitrary” hike in GST rates affecting MSMEs adversely, electricity duty on MSMEs, state government not releasing capital subsidy and interest subvention on solar power plants.

Hailing MSMEs as the backbone of Indian economy, Kejriwal said they should get cheap electricity. “Kautilya’s Arthashastra suggests that the king should collect taxes in a manner that the subjects do not even feel it… But GST is very complex. I know many friends who closed their businesses due to complexity in complying with the GST.”

In the present atmosphere, businessmen are perceived as thieves, Kejriwal said, adding, “An impression has been created that businessmen and industrialists don’t want to pay taxes. But as a matter of fact, 99 per cent of people want to pay taxes and run their business honestly. However, they are not given opportunities to pay taxes by way of making the taxation system complex.”

He said by weeding out corruption, the Delhi government doubled its tax collection in seven years. “When we formed the government for the first time in 2015, Delhi government’s total revenue was Rs 30,000 crore. Seven years on, Delhi government’s revenue today is 75,000 crore. This tax was paid by the businessmen, industrialists and people… We stopped conducting raids and told tax inspectors to trust businessmen.”

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