The Goods and Services Tax (GST), India’s biggest tax reform, was launched at midnight at Parliament’s historic Central Hall, by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With the stroke of the gong, current tax rates are replaced by GST rates. It is the fourth time since Independence that an event was held there at midnight.
The last three celebrated India’s Independence and that is among the reasons that the Congress had listed for boycotting the GST launch.
Several other opposition parties too stayed away. GST, which replaces a slew of indirect taxes with a unified tax, is set to dramatically reshape the country’s 2 trillion dollar economy.
President Pranab Mukherjee speaking on the occassion said, “The introduction of the GST is a momentous occasion for the country. But it is also a momentous occasion for me personally. I had introduced the Constitutional Amendment Bill in 2009 as the Finance Minister.”
Mukherjee went to on to state that he remembered meeting the chief ministers of Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra a number of times to hold meetings over “many contentious issues”.
He added, “I found both in those meetings and in my many interactions with Chief Ministers, Finance Ministers and officers of states, that most of them had a constructive approach and an underlying commitment to the introduction of GST.”
PM Modi said there could be no better place to launch GST than the historic Central Hall, “which has been witness to the midnight of August 14, 1947, when the country embraced Independence.”
Central Hall was specially decorated for the big night and was fitted with new carpets and sound systems.
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was seated at the high table with the President, Vice President, PM, Lok Sabha Speaker and Finance Minister.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD, DMK and Left parties stayed away from the event.
However leaders of other opposition parties like the Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and JD(U) attended the function.