To say that India enjoys a particularly complex economy would be stating the obvious. But an indication of exactly how complex the economy is came to the fore when the Goods and Services Tax was levied on recyclable scrap. The GST rate on waste cardboard, PET plastic and paper is 12%, while other old plastics and bottles attract 18% tax. The government has put municipal solid waste in an exempt category for GST but then seems to contradict itself by taxing recyclable waste materials that emerge primarily from municipal waste.
On its own, GST seems like a step forward in our complex taxation system. However, in its teething stages in dealing with waste, it has treaded on the toes of several lakh recyclers – the majority of them struggling to earn minimum wages to stay above the poverty line. It will end up worsening environmental conditions and cleanliness in public spaces too.