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GST midnight function not aimed at self-promotion: Jaitley

Author: IANS/Friday, June 30, 2017/Categories: TRACKING THE GST

GST midnight function not aimed at self-promotion: Jaitley

New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) - Rejecting the Congress charge that the midnight function for the launch of Goods and Services Tax (GST) was aimed at self-promotion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on June 30 asked the party to shed taking "fringe position" and instead adopt a position of mainstream party of governance.

"I feel political parties should rise above politics. The Congress party has to decide whether to take a fringe position or be a mainstream party of governance," he said at the Aaj Tak GST Conclave in reference to the main opposition party's decision to keep away from the midnight event.

He said the show will go on unmindful of the boycott by some parties. "For people who do not participate, the process will not stop. Since the economic reforms have started, there may be delay, more discussions, but none of the reforms that were necessary was prevented from being carried out."

"Discussions will be there in Parliament, but the discussion on this law...in the last 70 years so much discussion has not happened for any other law," he said.

Jaitley referred to 15 years of discussion that took place in evolving the law and said "if other governments were part of GST, they should be part of this. This narrow attitude will not deter."

He said, it is not self-promotion. The President, Vice President, Lok Sabha Speaker, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda were invited on stage. "From the first day, we took a broad view. For the sake of nation this was an occasion to rise above politics," he said.

Referring to the Opposition demand for deferring the launch of the indirect tax regime by six months, he referred to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's demand in particular and said, "You are running a government. Please read the Constitution. There will be anarchy if there is no taxation because after September 15 there will be no aternative tax regime."

Again referring to West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra's comments in this regard, Jaitley said, the alternative system has to be in place after September 15. "To say that we are in favour of GST but West Bengal is not implementing it...I feel political parties and state governments should take one position on GST. They can't have multiple positions."

He said the Jammu and Kashmir's position is a separate issue. He referred to the former finance minister of the state Abdul Rawther of the National Conference, who was chairman of the Empowered Committee at one time, and his party's present position against the new regime. 

Jaitley also referred to the role of the present Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and said apparently positions are being taken on a campaign in the state that after GST "economic integration will happen with India". 

However, he said the loss is for the people of the state, both consumers and traders and manufacturers. The consumer will have to pay tax both on input and the final product. Similarly, the businessmen will pay for input and be taxed outside on the products they send.

Asked how difficult it was to get the law in place in a raucous democracy like India, Jaitley said that is the strength of the country. 

"I had pointed out in the opening that nothing is ruled out. The Constitution amendment was passed unanimously in Parliament. The legislations were passed unanimously. The states passed the laws unanimously. The rules were adopted unanimously and rates were decided unanimously. At the end of the day, Indian policy makers show a sense of maturity," he said. 

Asked about the charge of showmanship levelled by the Congress against the government for holding the midnight function, Jaitley said, "the Congress said in the morning I will come and in the evening I will not come. The people, trade and chambers of the country are welcoming it."

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S Vijaykrishnan
S Vijaykrishnan

IANS

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