A day after former finance minister P. Chidambaram asserted that any rush to roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by July 1 could prove harmful, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya on Tuesday stated that this new tax regime should be implemented as scheduled despite all challenges as progress will take place only after we move ahead in this regard.
“Till date everybody was coming with assertions as to why the GST has not been implemented yet. Now, when it is about to be rolled out then they are saying that the date should be carried forward. So, I think we should definitely move ahead in this regard,” Panagariya told ANI.
“This is for sure that there will be growing pains when the transactions’ take place. But progress will take place only after we move ahead in this regard,” he added. Panagariya, however, admitted that there are challenges ahead because a new system is being created.
“It is a challenge for both the government and the industry,” he added.
Calling the July 1 deadline for the rollout of the GST as “impractical” and “undesirable”, Chidambaram said earlier in an interview that the deadline for implementing the indirect tax regime needs to be pushed back to October 1.
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The Congress leader also stated that rushed introduction of the new tax regime is heavily loaded against the country’s small and medium enterprises.
Earlier this month, the Rajya Sabha passed four GST Bills without amendments setting the stage for the government to launch on July 1, the country’s biggest tax reform since Independence.
Just before the bills were voted on after an eight-hour debate in the upper house, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh intervened and asked his party not to seek changes in them to ‘maintain consensus and federal agreement.’
Without the support of the Congress, which is the largest party in the Rajya Sabha, amendments moved by other Opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress and the Left were voted down.
Replying to the debate, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the GST will not lead to inflation.
He said once the new tax regime is implemented, the harassment that businesses face having to deal with multiple authorities will end and India will be have one rate for one commodity throughout the country.
Jaitley said the successive governments have contributed towards GST and no one person can take credit for it. “This Bill, I have no hesitation in conceding, is a collective property,” he said. The four bills passed on April 6 – the Central GST bill, the Integrated GST bill, the Union Territories GST bill and the compensation law – have already been cleared by the Lok Sabha, where the government has a big majority.
Now, a state GST Bill will be presented in the state assemblies for their approval. The GST rates will be discussed by the powerful GST Council on May 18-19.