Talks about GST (Goods and Services Tax), India’s biggest tax reform, has been going on for quite a while. Speculations are on as to what will happen with the launching of the bill. The wait will finally be over at midnight when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches the much-debated bill at Parliament’s historic Central Hall, in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee. It is the fourth time since Independence that an event will be held there at midnight. The last three celebrated India’s Independence and that is among the reasons that the Congress has listed for boycotting the GST launch tonight. Many opposition parties won’t be attending the launch. GST, which replaces a string of indirect taxes with a unified tax, is set to drastically reshape the country’s 2 trillion dollar economy.
Here are the top 10 updates before the GST launch 2017:
1. Central Hall has been refurbished, including new carpets and sound systems. The event will take place at 11 pm and go on after midnight to usher in GST on July 1. A gong will be sounded at 12 to signal GST is here.
2. President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi will make speeches. Joining them at the high table will be former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Vice President Hamid Ansari. Former PM Dr Manmohan Singh was also invited but the Congress’s boycott means he will not be there.
3. Nearly 1,000 people are expected. The guest list also includes industrialist Ratan Tata, RBI governor Urjit Patel and former governors Bimal Jalan and YV Reddy. Mr Patel’s predecessor Raghuram Rajan is not attending.
4. The government has invited all Members of Parliament, Chief Ministers and state finance ministers. Opposition parties like the Congress, the Left, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, DMK and Lalu Yadav’s RJD are boycotting the event. The Samajwadi Party is unsure about whether it would attend the function. It would be known “later in the day”, as told by senior party leader Naresh Agarwal.
5. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) or JD (U) is for GST and though he won’t attend, his party members have not been asked to stay away. Senior JD (U) leaders Sharad Yadav and KC Tyagi will also skip the launch.
6. Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK, which had walked out when the GST Bill was passed in Parliament, said though they are not fully satisfied with provisions of the new tax, they “have no option but to support GST” and will attend today’s launch.
7. “It’s historic because earlier we had national integration. Today we will have economic integration,” Union Minister Venkiah Naidu said. “Unfortunate because they (opposition) are distancing themselves from the process of reformation. I hope they will realise it by evening and rethink and join us at the Central Hall.”
8. “This midnight spectacle is ignoring harsh realities of society, intolerance, farmers issues which cannot be ignored. Congress cannot be party to such a tamasha (drama), publicity gimmick…we won’t be party to publicity for a mere tax policy,” the Congress’ Anand Sharma said. The party has also objected to the plan for PM Modi to launch GST, saying President Pranab Mukherjee will be present and so should do the honours.
9. Opposition parties also say that protests this week by textile traders show that small traders and others are not ready for GST. They suggested postponing the launch. Mamata Banerjee, in a Facebook post on
Wednesday, said the “unnecessary hurry to roll out GST is another epic blunder of the Centre.” Aam Aadmi Party too isn’t attending the launch. “Happy that Finance Minister listened to all the voices but most of the states are BJP-ruled,” said Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
10. “No transition can be seamless but we will make it as seamless as possible. Let people be assured that there is no intention to harass if a genuine mistake is made…mistakes can be taken care of,” as said by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.
By: Anamika Bhaumik