Accusing the Centre of imposing the GST in an “unnecessary hurry” on people least prepared for it, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her party would not attend its roll-out programme on June 30 midnight. She also termed the GST roll-out as an “epic blunder” by the Centre in what she described as a “super emergency-like situation.” “Our Parliamentary Party has decided not to attend the 30th June, 2017 midnight programme at Parliament House to celebrate the GST as a mark of protest,” she said. She also announced that state Finance Minister Amit Mitra would skip the GST council meeting scheduled in New Delhi on June 30 afternoon.
“We are deeply concerned about GST implementation. After #demonetisation, this unnecessary, disastrous hurry is another epic blunder of the Centre”, she said on Facebook. Later, she told reporters in the state secretariat, “This is more than emergency… It’s a super-emergency-like situation. The country is heading towards disastrous days ahead. They (Centre) are forcefully imposing the law on the countrymen.” “We have been for GST from the beginning but are very worried now with the way the Central government is going ahead with its implementation,” she said earlier. “Our repeated suggestions to take some more time to properly implement GST have fallen on deaf ears. The entire business community, especially the small and medium ones, are scared and confused. “Only 60 hours are left before this ill-planned launch and no one knows for sure what’s happening,” she said.
“Essential commodities such as medicines are not available in many places and prices of various commodities are rising for lack of clarity and mismanagement,” she said. Banerjee said, “We have always been fighting for maintaining the federal structure of the country, even if Bengal at times was the lone voice and conscience of the GST Council.” She said, “There are almost 20 different taxes in the present tax regime and we felt that one single tax and integration of all markets across the country will provide big relief to all.” Having a dig at the BJP, she said, “The current ruling party at the Centre had initially strongly opposed GST for over 7 years and suddenly did a somersault on coming to the office as a champion of GST.”
Banerjee said the economy is not yet ready to face the GST from July 1. The 3-day strike declared by the textile industries in the country was the evidence of “our deep concerns on the lack of preparedness.” “Small business entities are not yet ready with basic requirements like invoice, accounting system, IT system, etc. Another piece of evidence of unpreparedness comes from the fact that the ‘Return Form’ had to be simplified for the first 6 months as all systems are not in place. “It is shocking that the e-Waybill System is not yet designed and states are being asked to run their own systems as a stop-gap arrangement,” she said.
“We feel, at least six months more is necessary to notify all rules and procedures and give enough time to the stakeholders, particularly the small and medium enterprises to successfully implement the GST. “Otherwise, a chaotic situation may arise in our vast economy for which the Government of India will be primarily responsible,” she said. The West Bengal chief minister expressed hope that the voices of the people and businesses will be heard by the Centre.