Kolkata: Crossing sword once again with the Modi government, this time over the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) across the country from July 1, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday opposed the Centre's move and described it as an "epic blunder" after its demonetisation drive.
She declared that no Trinamool MP, in a mark of protest, would attend the midnight meeting at the Parliament on June 30 over the GST.
Her announcement comes as her government's appeal to the Centre to postpone the GST implementation for the time being has gone into "deaf ears."
In a Facebook post Banerjee said, "We are deeply concerned about GST implementation. After #demonetisation, this unnecessary disastrous hurry is another epic blunder of the Centre. We have been for GST from the beginning but are very worried now with the way the Central Government is going ahead with the implementation."
Venting her anger she alleged, "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!"
According to the Trinamool chief, "Essential commodities such as medicines are not available in many places and prices of various commodities are rising for lack of clarity and mismanagement."
Banerjee added, "We have always been fighting for maintaining the federalist structure of the country, even if Bengal at times was the lone voice and conscience of the GST Council. 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.”
She added that the current ruling party at the Centre had initially strongly opposed GST for over 7 years and suddenly did a somersault on coming to office as a champion of GST.
The chief minister explained, "We are saying that the economy is not yet ready to face the GST from the 1st of July, 2017. The 3 days strike declared by the Textile Industries of India provides evidence to our deep concerns on the lack of preparedness. Small business entities are not yet ready with the basic requirements like invoice, accounting system, IT system and others. Another piece of evidence of unpreparedness comes from the fact that the ‘Return Form’ had to be simplified for the first six 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 stopgap arrangement."
Offering a suggestion for GST postponement Mamata Banerjee underlined, "We feel, at least 6 months will further be 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 mentioned, "I hope the voices of the people and businesses is being heard and being paid heed to, by the Central Government. Our Parliamentary Party has decided not to attend the 30th June, 2017 midnight programme at the Parliament House to celebrate GST, as a mark of protest. I thought of sharing this with all of you."