GST rollout: Intent behind boycott was political, says MoS Finance

[India], July 1 (ANI): Responding to the Congress and other parties’ decision to boycott the midnight session of Parliament chaired for the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar asserted that the intent behind it was ‘purely political’.

“The Opposition was always supportive of the GST and contributed towards the council meetings. The boycott is purely political,” he said.

Speaking of the ‘historic’ achievement, Gangwar said all the problems of the concerned persons will be addressed in due time.

“All arrangements have been made to address the concerns of all those who have raised doubts. The GST Council will deliberate as and when required,” he added.

Earlier, in his opening address, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also raised the issue of the Opposition boycott, and said national interest was at priority when it came to the implementation of the GST.

“Unanimous support and consensus-based work of the GST Council highlights that India can rise above politics and speak in one voice for the national interest,” he said.

The Congress on Thursday announced boycotting the midnight rollout of the GST and termed it the Modi Government’s “tamasha” (drama) and ‘publicity stunt’.

Senior Congress leader and former Cabinet Minister Anand Sharma that Congress’ skip is an “ideological boycott” for many reasons.

He said that first and foremost objection is that the Modi Government is attempting to take full credit of the GST.

The Congress leader said that when Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had brought the GST then only one chief minister had opposed it, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

“If we did the same, then the GST would not have been implemented today. Together, in all the states, the Congress Party has made its point in favour of the GST. But, now the ruling party is going to launch this national reform programme from Parliament like a one party programme.

“The Modi government has more faith in the drama and it is denying the role of other political parties including the Congress in the GST”.

Defending its decision to skip Parliament’s special midnight session tonight, Sharma called it an insult to 1947 and termed it as an ideological boycott.

“The midnight launch of the GST is an insult to 1947. On the night of August 14, Jawaharlal Nehru had made his famous ‘tryst with destiny’ speech in the Central Hall of Parliament, which effectively announced the independence of India from the British. After that, for the second time after the completion of 25 years of independence, then it was 50 years later,” Sharma said.

He maintained that “the Congress has done many historical works during its tenure, but have we ever done such a programme in the central chamber?”

Meanwhile, hailed as the ‘most ambitious economic reform’ in India, the GST was launched in the midnight session of the Parliament, in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, among other dignitaries.

Ending more than 11 years of hectic argument among the Centre and the states, the GST is set to completely transform the indirect taxation landscape in the country involving both the Central and State levies.

In a departure from the normal practice, the GST will be administered together by the Centre and States.

The biggest tax reform since Independence – the GST – will pave the way for realisation of the goal of One Nation – One Tax – One Market.

It will benefit all the stakeholders namely industry, government and consumer as it will lower the cost of goods and services give a boost to the economy and make the products and services globally competitive, giving a major boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Under the GST regime, exports will be zero-rated in entirety unlike the present system where refund of some of the taxes does not take place due to fragmented nature of indirect taxes between the Centre and the States.

However, the GST will make India a common market with common tax rates and procedures and remove economic barriers. GST is largely technology driven and will reduce the human interface to a great extent. GST is expected to improve ease of doing business in India. (ANI)

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