In a special midnight session in the central hall of Parliament, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be rolled out Friday in what will be the beginning of one of the biggest indirect tax reform measures since Independence. The session will be attended by President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief ministers of states and MPs of both Houses of Parliament.
All four bills related to GST were passed by both Houses of Parliament in April this year.
Parties like the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have refused to attend the session calling it a ‘publicity stunt’. The Congress said that by convening the function in the Central Hall, the government was “insulting the very memory of India’s freedom struggle and the sacrifices associated with it”. “Perhaps for the BJP, 1947, 1972 and 1997 may be of no relevance because they played no role in securing India’s freedom. So perhaps they don’t give it much importance… But we give importance,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior party leader.
Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress’s leader in Lok Sabha, said the UPA had passed several significant Acts like the RTI Act, Food Security Act, MGNREGA and Right to Education Act, but never held such celebrations in the Central Hall.
The GST’s introduction will ensure that all central, state level taxes and levies on all goods and services are subsumed within an integrated tax having two components – central GST and a state GST. Thus there will be a comprehensive and continuous mechanism of tax credits. All four GST bills were passed by both Houses of Parliament earlier this year pointing to a July 1 rollout.
There are four tax slabs of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% and various items and sectors have been categorised under these slabs.