Biggest-ever tax reform ushered in as India rolls out GST

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: At the stroke of the midnight hour, India marked a new era by rolling out its unified indirect taxation regime, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which aims to bind the country under an idea of “one nation, one tax, one market”.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed button to officially launch the most anticipated bill at a special midnight GST session in the Parliament’s Central Hall tonight.

Calling the GST a “disruptive change”, President Pranab Mukherjee said the ambitious central tax is a “tribute” to the maturity and wisdom of India’s democracy as he recalled steps taken during his own tenure as Finance Minister on this key reform measure.

The President also said the GST Council should continuously review the implementation and suggest suitable improvements to the new indirect taxation regime.

Quoting that a change of this magnitude however positive it may be, Mukherjee said, it is bound to raise some teething troubles and difficulties in the initial stages, but nevertheless these issues have to be solved with understanding and speed to ensure that they do not impact the growth momentum of the economy, he said.

“Success of such major changes always depends on their effective implementation. In the months to come, based on the experience of actual implementation, the GST Council and the Central and state governments should continuously review the design and make improvements, in the same constructive spirit as has been displayed till now,” Mukherjee said.

The President further said the GST will “also make our exports more competitive and also provide a level playing field to domestic industry to compete with imports.”

Under GST, Mukherjee said the tax incidence will be transparent, enabling full removal of tax burden on exports and full incidence of domestic taxes on imports.

By creating a unified common national market, the GST will act as a major boost to economic efficiency, tax compliance and domestic and foreign investment, he added.

The midnight session was attended by Vice-President, Lok Sabha Speaker, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, union cabinet ministers, many chief ministers, state finance ministers and GST council members, senior government officials, legislators of both ruling party and some opposition parties.

While, some parties of the Opposition like the JD(U), the NCP, the BJD, the Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (S) participated in the launch of the GST, the Congress, the Trinamool, the Left and some other parties gave the event a miss.

Odisha Finance Minister Sashibhusan Behera, MP Baijayant Panda, Bhartuhari Mahatab, Pratap Deb, Prasanna Acharya were also present at the special launch.

Odisha Chief Minister in a tweet said, “Odisha played important role in the rollout of OneNationOneTaxOneMarket and urged for its smooth implementation.”

Patnaik further urged for measures to address all doubts and concerns to benefit the common man, trade, commerce and industry.

Speaking to OTV, Finance Minister Behera said “GST rollout is perhaps the biggest ever taxation reform after the independence. It is definitely more simpler and better taxation system for all types of businesses, consumers and industries across the country,”

“The new reform though it seems challenging now will definitely usher positive results for the country in the coming days,” Behera said.

Also Read: Odisha passes state GST Bill

BJD MP from Kendrapara, Baijayant Panda on the other hand said that, “It is a historic occassion as the country will now be a one market with one tax system. Our party (BJD) had supported it and we welcome it.”

Cuttack MP Bhartruhari Mahatab after the special GST session said that Odisha being a consumer State will be benefited by it. Though there will be challenges, GST council would work to resolve such issues.