The Left parties will not take part in the special midnight meeting on June 30 convened by the government to launch the Goods and Services Tax (GST), CPI leader D Raja said today. He said the parties will not take part in the meeting in view of protest by small and medium scale entrepreneurs, traders, weavers and informal sector workers on the way the GST is being implemented. “The Left will not be participating in the midnight GST meeting. People are agitating across the county. There are serious apprehensions in the minds of people over GST’s implementation. We cannot be celebrating when people are agitating,” the Rajya Sabha member said. Raja claimed that the informal sector, which creates 80 per cent of the jobs in the country, will be affected by the way the GST is being rolled out, allegedly without preparation.
Raising concerns over the way rates under the new tax regime have been fixed, he said the GST for gold is 3 per cent, whereas that for the essential commodities which people use ranges between 18 per cent and 28 per cent. “Small and medium scale entrepreneurs are complaining that Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is still not in place. The government will have to address these issues before the launch,” Raja said. The GSTN is a section 8 (under new Companies Act, not for profit companies are governed under section 8), non- government, private limited company set up to provide the front-end and back-end IT and infrastructural support for the working of GST.
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CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said he will not attend the midnight meeting. He, however, claimed that his party is not boycotting the meeting, but has also not issued a whip in the matter. When a party issues a whip, its MPs have to obey the party position or face disciplinary action. So, the CPI(M) not issuing a whip indicates that there will be no action if the party’s MPs chose to not attend the meeting. Yechury has been critical of the “hurried manner” in which the government is launching the GST.
The Congress and the TMC have already declared they will not take part in the meeting. The government will use the circular-shaped Central Hall to launch the new taxation system that is set to dramatically re-shape the over USD 2 trillion economy. A gong will be sounded at midnight to usher in the GST. Modi will be the key speaker at the function. President Pranab Mukherjee is also likely to attend the function, where former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda have been invited too.