A midnight event at Parliament's Central Hall will herald the birth of GST

A midnight event at Parliament's Central Hall will herald the birth of GST
The historic Central Hall of Parliament will witness a special event at the stroke of midnight on June 30 when India's biggest tax reform - the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be launched converting the country into a unified market.

Just as the holy conch was blown to herald the birth of a new nation at the midnight of August 15, 1947, a gong will be sounded at the midnight of June 30 to depict the launch of GST. Present on the dais will be President Pranab Mukherjee, who will officially roll out GST, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be the key speaker.

Mukherjee, as the union finance minister had laid down the basic structure of GST in 2009. He will speak on the subject too.

Two former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda will also be sharing the stage with Modi. The hour-long function will start at about 11 pm. It will include a screening of two short films on the decade-long journey of GST and the efforts that went into heralding the new regime.

Besides, the chief ministers of all states will be invited to the event as GST represented an unprecedented exercise in fiscal federalism. All the GST Council members and empowered group of finance ministers will be the guests at the event. The officials involved in making GST a reality will also grace the launch event.

The discussion on GST was flagged off in 2000 by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who subsequently set up a committee headed by the then finance minister of West Bengal, Asim Dasgupta, to design the GST model and put in place the back-end technology and logistics for its implementation. The draft on GST had undergone a change several times over but Dasgupta remained the chairman of the committee until 2011.

He is one of the invitees for the historic Friday event. In a brief interaction with media, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recalled the contributions various governments at the Centre made since the idea of GST was first conceptualised.

To queries on whether the government was calling a special session of Parliament to launch GST, the finance minister said, “only a function and not a session”.

Doubts were also raised whether the government was hastening the launch despite a call by some states to delay it by a few weeks, Jaitley said, “when you go in for reforms, you should never blink. If you blink, you will be derailed”.



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