Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asked all political parties to attend the ceremony marking the formal launch of the GST on July 1. Photograph: (ANI)
Finance minister Arun Jaitley clarified on Thursday that it was not just the central government that had decided to bring in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and all states and political parties that were a part of the decision-making process must attend the formal launch of the GST in Parliament on July 1.
"I can't recall any discussion which has been more or greater than the one in the case of GST. Those who have been a party to this consultation and decision making process must also accept this is not a decision of the central government. It's equally a decision which 31 state governments and Union Territories have been a party to and these are representing various political complexions," the finance minister said.
"Hope every political party will reconsider and revisit its decisions and be party to launch of massive reform to which they have themselves been privy to," Arun Jaitley said.
"They must display broad shoulders and own up this decision. Symbolic boycotts are not evidence of any kind of disassociation from these decisions," he added.
"I can say this without fear of contradiction that there has never been this (kind of) exercise, of this kind of political consultation and political consensus in bringing the GST," he said.
The finance minister's statements come after political parties like the Congress, Trinamool Congress, the RJD, the Left and the DMK said they would boycott the launch ceremony.
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu concurred, saying "symbolic boycotts are not evidence of any dissociation from these decisions".
Venkaiah Naidu said he did not understand why the Congress was boycotting the GST session.
"Did GST come suddenly? Is it being rolled out without discussion? No. I can't understand the reason," Venkaiah Naidu said. "GST is Indian Economy's Tryst with Destiny. It is the biggest reform after independence."
The historic Central Hall of Parliament will host a midnight function on June 30 to launch India’s biggest tax overhaul since independence.
The Congress has objected to the fact that PM Modi and not President Pranab Mukherjee will launch GST.
The GST Bill was piloted by Pranab Mukherjee when he was the finance minister in the UPA regime.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee claims the economy is not yet ready to face the GST roll-out from July 1. In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the West Bengal Chief Minister claimed that it would take at least six more months to notify all rules and procedures and give enough time to the stakeholders for successfully implementing the landmark tax reform.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad announced today that his party will boycott the launch, claiming that the 'Centre has changed it'.
"RJD has supported the GST earlier but later it was found that the BJP-led government at the Centre has changed it. We will not be part of it," he said.
The DMK said today it will boycott the launch since "it is only a function to announce a new tax law" and similar functions were not held when banks and insurance companies were nationalised and other landmark bills passed.