GST Is Good & Simple Tax: Modi
`Freedom At Midnight From Tax Terrorism, Inspector Raj’
The goods and services tax (GST), a radical step towards the country’s transformation into a common market, became a reality at the stroke of midnight with Prime Minister Narendra Modi billing it as a “good and simple tax“ which would help businesspersons by putting an end to tax terrorism and inspector Raj. It would also contribute to the welfare of people and the fight against corruption and black money , he added.
President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Modi pressed buttons in the historic Central Hall of Parliament to usher in the new regime, which promises to lower the tax burden by doing away with the cascading effect of 17 central and state taxes, apart from 23 cesses, and to facilitate free movement of goods across state borders.
“From Ganganagar to Itanagar, from Leh to Lakshadweep, the dream of one nation, one tax will be fulfilled,“ Modi added.
The PM, who quoted Albert Einstein and Chanakya, besides passages from the Vedas, described implementation of GST as a huge accomplishment, on par with the merger of more than 500 principalities into the Indian Union. “ Imagine what India would have looked like today had Sardar Patel not united all the principalities of India.Just like that, GST will unite India into one market,“ he said. He also referred to the coincidence of the GST Council having its 18th meeting on Friday, just ahead of the GST launch, and the Bhagavad Gita having 18 chapters.
Modi said GST was not just about taxation reform.“It is about cooperative federalism, it will help fight black money and corruption and usher in a new culture of governance, giving an oppor tunity to honesty. It brings in a new culture of governance,“ he said. Modi added that it would help “find resources to help the poor without disproportionately burdening anybody“ -a pitch reminiscent of the hardsell of demonetisation.
The launch happened against the backdrop of a boycott by Congress, Trinamool, Left, DMK, RJD and a few other parties. Several non-NDA parties, including allies of Congress like NCP, turned up, giving a boost to the government’s effort to cast the occasion as a non-partisan, transformational moment in the country’s history . The choice of Central Hall, the venue for marking Independence and the adoption of the Constitution, and the spectacle of a lighted Parliament House, appeared to invest the occasion with solemnity and splendour befitting the turning point the government sought to project the event as.
The government, however, took an above-the-fray position. “It is not just the achievement of one government. It is a shared accomplishment,“ the PM said, taking off from where finance minister Arun Jaitley left off.
President Mukherjee helped the effort by emphasising that GST enjoyed the sanction of the entire political class. “This consensus took not only time but also effort to build. The effort came from persons from across the political spectrum who set aside narrow partisan considerations and put the na tion’s interest first. It is a tribute to the maturity and wisdom of India’s democracy ,“ the President said, recalling his role in introducing the Constitution amendment bill as the then finance minister.
He also sought to allay concerns about likely disruption. “GST is a disruptive change. It is similar to the introduction of VAT when there was initial resistance.When a change of this magnitude is undertaken, however positive it may be, there are bound to be some teething troubles and difficulties in the initial stages. We will have to solve these with understanding and speed,“ Mukherjee added.
Speaking earlier, Jaitley also struck a non-partisan note as he generously apportioned the credit among parties, governments and former chairmen of the empowered committee of state finance ministers.
But the PM did not let the grandeur of the occasion distract him from potential problems. He reached out to small businesses which are wary of the new regime.
“Even when you get new spectacles, your eyes will take a day or two to adjust,“ Modi said, adding that the technology used for filing GST returns was so simple that a student of Class 10 or 12 could handle it. Modi cautioned against “rumour mongering“ about the adverse consequences of GST.
The PM’s stress on end of harassment by tax officials was also aimed at small and medium traders. “Those doing business honestly will face no harassment from now,“ he said.
But even as he sought to appease the worry of an old, though vacillating, constituency , Modi sought to consolidate the constituency he has acquired. His focus on the benefits likely to accrue to the poor on account of higher tax collection and culture of honesty indicated the desire to build upon the political gains he made after dramatically scrapping high value notes on November 8.
Courtesy: The Times of India (Bangalore)