The Goods and Services Tax (GST), which comes into effect from midnight, will be launched at 12.00 am by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, chief ministers of all states, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and MPs of both houses of Parliament. It will be launched in the Parliament’s Central Hall. The tax regime, which was initiated by the UPA government, will replace the current indirect taxation system and unify the country’s $2 trillion economy into one single market.
There are nearly 600 people who have been invited for the event, including all members of Parliament and GST officials. However, many Opposition leaders have decided to boycott the event, given its hasty implementation. While former prime minister HD Deva Gowda is expected to attend the event, Manmohan Singh, who was specially invited for the launch, has decided to give it a skip. Opposition parties like the Congress and its ally DMK, the Left, TMC and RJD are all boycotting the event. The JD(U), which supports the tax reform, has left the decision up to its MPs.
Here is the minute-to-minute programme leading up to the launch of the GST:
2300 hrs: President Pranab Mukherjee will arrive in the Parliament’s Central Hall.
2301 hrs: National Anthem to be played for one minute.
2302 hrs: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to make introductory remarks in the Parliament.
2305 hrs: A 10-minute presentation film on GST.
2315 hrs: A 23-minute address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
2338 hrs: A 22-minute address by President Pranab Mukherjee.
0000 hrs: Launch of GST.
0003 hrs: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar to announce the closure of event.
0004 hrs: National Anthem to be played for one minute.
0005 hrs: President Pranab Mukherjee leaves signifying the conclusion of function.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party has agreed to attend the special midnight meeting on GST. Keeping reservations about the GST law that is set to come into effect at midnight, SP leader Naresh Agrawal on Friday said, “We oppose GST, it’s a black law but since President will attend launch we will go as we do not want to create controversy.”
On the other hand, India Inc has hailed the rollout of the GST, saying it will give huge momentum to the country’s economy and tempt global businesses to invest in India.
“The medium-term impact of GST on macroeconomic indicators is expected to be extremely positive. Inflation will be reduced as cascading of taxes will be eliminated. Tax revenues of the government would go up with expanded tax net, and fiscal deficit would remain under control. Further, exports would emerge as more competitive in global markets, while FDI is likely to be encouraged,” CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee was quoted as saying by PTI.