TMC protests GST roll-out on July 1, to skip midnight launch

The Asian Age.

Metros, Kolkata

Government’s appeal to postpone date ignored n Move ‘epic blunder’, says CM Mamata Banerjee.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (Photo: PTI)

Kolkata: Protesting the Goods & Services Tax (GST) implementation across the country from July 1, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday described the Centre’s move as an “epic blunder” after the demonetisation drive.

She declared that Trinamul MPs would boycott the midnight meeting at the Parliament on June 30 that will mark the roll-out of the GST.

Her announcement comes as her government’s appeal to the Centre to postpone the GST implementation fell into “deaf ears.” In a Facebook post in the afternoon, Ms Banerjee said, “We are deeply concerned about GST implementation. After #demonetisation, this unnecessary disastrous hurry is another epic blunder of the Centre. We have been for GST from the beginning, but are very worried now with the way the Central Government is going ahead with the implementation.”

While leaving the state secretariat in the evening Ms Banerjee said, “GST is more dangerous than the Emergency. It is super Emergency... bad days for the country.”

She claimed that she was forced to introduce an ordinance on June 19 for the collection of revenues by the state treasury. She made it clear that state finance minister Amit Mitra would not also attend the meeting on GST in the Parliament on June 30. She alleged, “Our repeated suggestions to take some more time to properly implement the GST have fallen into deaf ears. The entire business community, especially the small and medium ones, are scared and confused. Only 60 hours are left before this ill-planned launch and no one knows for sure what’s happening!”

According to the Trinamul supremo, “Essential commodities, such as medicine, are not available in many places and prices of various commodities are rising for the lack of clarity and mismanagement. We have always been fighting to maintain the federalist structure of the country, even if Bengal at times was the lone voice and conscience of the GST Council.”

Going on warpath with the BJP, Ms Banerjee noted, “There are almost 20 different taxes in the present tax regime and we felt that a single tax and integration of all markets across the country would provide big relief to all. The current ruling party at the Centre had initially strongly opposed GST for over 7 years and suddenly did a somersault on coming to office and championed GST.”

The chief minister explained, “We are saying that the economy is not yet ready to face the GST from the July 1, 2017. The three days’ strike declared by the Textile Industries of India provides evidence to our deep concerns on the lack of preparedness. Small business entities are not yet ready with the basic requirements like invoice, accounting system, IT system, etc.”

She added, “Another piece of evidence of unpreparedness comes from the fact that the ‘Return Form’ had to be simplified for the first six months as all systems are not in place. It is shocking that the e-Waybill System is not yet designed and states are being asked to run their own systems as a stopgap arrangement.”

Offering a suggestion for the GST postponement, Ms Banerjee underlined, “We feel, at least 6 months would further be necessary to notify all rules and procedures and give enough time to the stake-holders, particularly the small and medium enterprises to successfully implement the GST. Otherwise, a chaotic situation may arise in our vast economy for which the Government of India will be primarily responsible.”

She mentioned, “I hope the voices of the people and businesses is being heard and being paid heed to, by the Central government. Our Parliamentary party has decided not to attend the June-30 midnight programme at the Parliament House to celebrate GST, as a mark of protest. I thought I would share this with all of you.”