The midnight of June 30th 2017 was one to remember. Lights, camera, action... Looks like a marriage celebration. The goods and services tax popularly called GST was launched at midnight on June 30th 2017, in a ceremony which brings back memories of India’s Tryst with Destiny. This was a famous speech made in Parliament on the midnight of August 15th 1947, by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Guests poured into the Parliament house at around 9 PM, much before the designated seating time of 10:30 PM. If you attended the ceremony, you would see guests decked up in expensive Kanjeevarams and traditional dresses. Chic Indian wear was on display. At the stroke of midnight on June 30th 2017, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President Pranab Mukerjee pressed a button in the Central Hall of Parliament, ushering the arrival of GST in India. GST, a single indirect tax was officially launched in India.
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The Prime Minister in his speech called the GST "good and simple tax" which would put an end to tax terrorism and inspector Raj. "From Ganganagar to Itanagar, from Leh to Lakshadweep, the dream of one nation, one tax will be fulfilled." He also credited all political parties and previous governments for India's biggest reform, ending more than 14 years of painstaking negotiations among the center and states.
The Prime Minister says, "GST is not just a tax reform. It is co-operative federalism, which will help fight black money and corruption. The Prime Minister says, "Kuccha pucca bill ka khel khatam. (the time is up for not billing a transaction or under-invoicing it)."
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his speech said, GST would ease inflation, boost GDP and made tax evasion very difficult. He also said 17 transaction taxes in the state and center and also 23 cesses would be subsumed by the GST. With inflation coming down and tax avoidance becoming difficult, extra resources would be used for the welfare of poor and weaker sections.
GST has drawn criticism from traders, retailers and business leaders who beleive GST will distort the system and go against, "One-nation, One-market" concept. Many traders have even gone on nationwide strikes. Some traders have asked for more time to enable glitch-free filing of tax returns and also get accustomed to the GSTN (GST Network).
GSTN is a portal driven system which helps in real-time taxpayer registration, filing tax returns, executing inter-state tax settlements and can even handling invoices.
Both the Prime Minister and President have said that there could be teething problems and have urged businesses to bear with them. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, the adjustment to GST can be as simple as a change of power in prescription glasses. He also asked traders not to fall prey to malicious rumors.
This is what the Prime Minister has to say on GST, " It is true that everyone is not tech-savvy. However, if any household has a class 10th - 12th student, he would definitely know about technology. GST is so simple that a class 12 student can help merchants file returns."
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