GST launched in India: The country’s biggest economic reform since Independence, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out past midnight Friday at the historic Central Hall of the Parliament in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and many other high-profile dignitaries. GST was implemented when President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed the button to sound the gong to launch the new indirect tax regime on a digital screen. The new tax regime is based on the principle of ‘one nation, one tax, one market’ and is believed to transform the Indian economy in the coming years.
Addressing the Parliament during the event, President Pranab Mukherjee called it a precedent-setting moment for the country and a matter of personal satisfaction for him because of his role as the former Finance Minister. “I had always believed that GST was a matter of time and was happy when it was enacted and I gave assent to the Constitution amendment last year,” he said.
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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that GST will not only bring a transparent and fair system but will also bring an end to corruption and black money. Talking about the initial trouble that people might have to face, the Prime Minister said even eyes have to adjust for a couple of days when a sight corrective spectacles are worn. He added that GST will promote new governance culture that will end harassment at the hand of tax officials.
Welcoming the gathering, FM Jaitley described GST as the biggest and most ambitious tax reform which is an achievement of the country through consensus. He said it highlights the fact that India can rise above narrow politics and work for country’s benefit. In making the GST, neither the Centre nor the states gave up their sovereignty, the finance minister added.
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However, the opposition parties like Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD, DMK and Left parties boycotted the event by saying that government was making a spectacle of a legislation for self-promotion, a charge Jaitley rejected. Standing by his party’s decision, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also boycotted the event. MPs and leaders of Congress allies NCP and Samajwadi Party did attend the function.
The GST regime seeks to reduce rates of over 50 per cent of items of daily use and charge others at a much lower rate of 5 per cent, 12 per cent and 18 per cent. However, a tax rate of 28% will be imposed on luxury items under it.