India tax reform Hindustan Times/ Getty Images

Una reforma tributaria torpe en la India

NUEVA DELHI – El 1 de julio, un silencio fantasmal se abatió sobre muchos de los bulliciosos mercados de la India. A medianoche, con una ceremonia a todo brillo en el parlamento, había entrado en vigor un nuevo impuesto nacional a los bienes y servicios (Goods and Services Tax, GST). El cambio fue aclamado como la mayor reforma tributaria desde la independencia. Pero los comerciantes tenían tantas dudas sobre cómo afectaría a los precios de sus productos, que ese día muchos optaron por cerrar sus negocios.

Muchos (entre los que me incluyo) llevamos tiempo pidiendo un impuesto nacional de esa naturaleza, con el objetivo de unificar el mercado nacional indio y aumentar la transparencia, digitalización y eficiencia de la economía. Su introducción se demoró un decenio por la oposición del ahora gobernante Partido Popular Indio (Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP), incluido el actual primer ministro Narendra Modi, quien, siendo jefe de ministros del estado de Gujarat, sostuvo que dicho impuesto avanzaría sobre los derechos de los estados y los despojaría de ingresos.

Pero parece que desde la capital las cosas se ven diferentes. Ahora, más de tres años después de su asunción al cargo, Modi implementa el impuesto que antes criticaba, aunque en una versión muy distinta de la que esperaban sus defensores. Casi como la desastrosa apuesta por la desmonetización de hace sólo ocho meses (que implicaba retirar de un día al otro todos los billetes de alta denominación circulantes), el GST resultó a la vez un caos y un trastorno.

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