GST set for red-car­pet roll­out in Par­lia­ment

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - News - Suchetana Ray let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com n

NEWDELHI: Fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley asked all op­po­si­tion par­ties to be a part of the high-pro­file July 1 mid­night launch of the goods and ser­vices tax (GST) as the gov­ern­ment geared up on Thurs­day for one of In­dia’s most am­bi­tious re­forms.

“I hope ev­ery po­lit­i­cal party will re­con­sider and re­visit its de­ci­sion,” he said.

Par­lia­ment is decked out with fes­ti­val lights and re­hearsals were con­ducted ahead of the Cen­tral Hall func­tion that Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, se­nior min­is­ters and bu­reau­crats will at­tend.

The GST will re­place about 20 cen­tral and state taxes such as fac­tory-gate du­ties, ser­vice and lo­cal taxes while uni­fy­ing Asia’s third-largest econ­omy and 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple into a sin­gle mar­ket.

The fi­nance min­is­ter thanked state gov­ern­ments for the “col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort” to im­ple­ment the new sys­tem. His cab­i­net col­league Venka­iah Naidu re­quested par­ties to rise above pol­i­tics for the suc­cess­ful roll­out of the sin­gle-tax regime.

The ap­peal fol­lows the de­ci­sion of the Congress, Tri­namool Congress, DMK and Left par­ties to boy­cott of the mid­night cere-

mony, say­ing the coun­try was “ill-pre­pared” for its im­ple­men­ta­tion. For­mer PM Man­mo­han Singh, who was a spe­cial in­vi­tee, is likely to skip the event.

First con­cep­tu­alised in 2000, the GST un­der­went sev­eral changes in 17 years to emerge as a multi-tiered tax struc­ture, which economists be­lieve will un­der­mine the ad­van­tages that a uni­form in­di­rect tax would have af­fected.

“Given the multi-tiered rate struc­ture and the enor­mous pa­per­work in­volved, there should have been a six-month prepa­ra­tion time to al­lay fears of traders,” econ­o­mist Mo­han Gu­ruswamy said.

Food­grain, ce­re­als and veg­eta­bles have been zero-rated, while other rate slabs are 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. A cess will also be added to so-called “sin and lux­ury prod­ucts”.

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