New Delhi: The 17-year wait for the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) will come to an end on Friday night. GST will be rolled out at midnight on July 1 with the sounding of a gong.
The central hall of Parliament House is ready to hold the special midnight session for the announcement of GST, the first of its kind after Independence.
The launch of GST or ‘one nation, one tax’ will see President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and leaders from various political parties.
Two former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Dewe Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan are also expected to grace the event.
After the speech of President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a 10-minute documentary on GST will be screened for the gathering.
MPs of both houses of the Parliament, chief ministers, finance ministers of all the states have been invited.
The main opposition party of Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party (SP) has declared its stand on the historic inauguration programme of GST saying it would attend the meeting.
SP leader Naresh Agarwal said that the party does not support GST but would still be present for the launch so as not to disrespect the President. He made further claims of rolling back GST as soon as SP returns to power.
Both the factions of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have extended their support and for GST.
However, there are a number of political parties who have decided to skip the grand launch of GST.
The main Opposition party, Congress, will boycott the midnight launch of GST. Satyavrat Chaturvedi, a party leader has confirmed their stand saying, "The party has decided not to attend GST midnight session on June 30 in Parliament."
While a section of the Congress party disagrees with the party’s decision to skip the launch, the other few think that being a part of the programme could have ensured Congress’ claim on modern India’s biggest example of tax reform.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) was the first party to announce its decision to skip the GST launch. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her strong reservations over the implementation of the GST from July 1.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mamata Banerjee described GST as "an epic blunder" after demonetisation drive.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad made it clear that his party will not attend GST launch on Friday. However, the ruling party in Bihar, Janta Dal (United) JD(U), which happens to be RJD’s alliance partner, will attend the programme.
Left parties will also not partake in Friday’s special midnight meeting on GST. CPI leader, D Raja said that the party will keep away from the launch keeping in mind the protests staged by traders, weavers, small and medium scale entrepreneurs against the way GST is being implemented.
"The informal sector creating 80 per cent of the jobs in the country, will be affected by the way GST is being initiated, allegedly without preparation," D Raja added.
Reiterating CPI’s stand of skipping the special GST rollout meeting, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said that they are free to not join the event.
“The atmosphere in the country is not suitable for such a celebration. There is anguish throughout the country on the killings in the name of cow. It’s not an announcement of economic freedom, it’s only extension of earlier rules like VAT,” said Kerala Finance Minister and member of GST council Thomas Isaac.
In Tamil Nadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) will follow the suit of TMC, Congress, Left and RJD and will not be attending the session.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi said that launch of GST would only trigger ‘chaos’, quite similar to the scenario that prevailed after demonetisation of high value notes in 2016, as said in media reports. He also expressed his doubts regarding the organised implementation of such a tax reform.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) termed GST a ‘good idea’ with poor implementation. It said that GST, involving high tax levies, would rather help tax evasion leading to a growth of grey market.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “Traders are scared, the common man is scared and you (the central government) want to celebrate.”...