As the clock hit 12, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee pressed the button to implement India’s biggest tax reform ever – the Goods and Services Tax (GST). However, several opposition parties have expressed their disagreement over the move and have even boycott the midnight GST launch function in the Parliament on Friday midnight. Even the Samajwadi Party (SP) MP and Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agarwal, who comes from the trader community, had almost prevailed upon the party and declared SP’s status quo over the GST in Saifai during the birthday celebration of another SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav.
As per an Indian Express report, all the MPs from SP were affirmative over skipping the GST function, however, Finance Minsiter Arun Jaitley’s personal equation with Yadav ensured everyone to reschedule their programmes late afternoon to attend the Friday-night launch function. As the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government claims the move to be founded on the concept of ‘one nation, one market, one tax,’ PM Modi said GST is a joint effort of different parties and described it as ‘Good and Simple Tax’.
Addressing a gathering of current and former lawmakers, business leaders and central bank officials during the launch function in the parliament, PM Modi said that the GST marks the economic integration of India. “There are 500 taxes and we are getting rid of it. From Ganganagar to Itanagar and Leh to Lakshadweep, it is one nation, one tax,” he added.
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However, amid the euphoria, President Pranab Mukherjee also offered some words of caution to the gathering. He said, “GST is a disruptive change, no doubt. When a change of the magnitude is undertaken, however positive it may be, there are bound to be some teething troubles and difficulties in the initial stage.”
The GST was first proposed in the Parliament back in 2006 which subsumed more than a dozen state and central taxes into one and included all 29 states and country’s entire population into a single frame for the first time. With the GST launch, government claims to expand India’s narrow tax base and strengthen government revenue model. The move so far has been heralded by several economists and is expected to be the most effective economic reform of PM Modi-led three-year-old BJP regime.