India rolls out biggest tax reform to usher into new economic era

Minister Narendra Modi center Indian President Pranab Mukherjee center right and Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari right walk in a procession for a midnight session of parliament to launch the Goods and Services Tax in Ne

The GST ceremony was attended by the President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and other Cabinet ministers, many chief ministers, and senior government officials.

The minister further said nobody can claim that one has the fundamental right of not paying taxes.

"I don't think prices will go up after GST implementation because we have brought down the weighted average of entire taxation".

According to Pratik Jain, PwC India Partner and Leader, Indirect Tax, once the regime settles in, "we can look forward to it spurring the economy by incentivising manufacturing and making business decisions independent of taxes". "If India has to move from developing economy to developed economy then the attitude, mindset of people... it is about time that the mindset also became a mindset of a developed economy", Jaitley said at an event here.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured that the GST would unleash the true potential of the huge market in India. With the help of the GST, the backward states, the poor and the oppressed will help get uplifted. Shri Modi stated that GST would unify the country with a single tax system.

Tax professionals want the government to have empathy towards businesses in initial days of GST rollout to make the reform acceptable to all sectors of the economy.

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Addressing the gathering here, Prime Minister termed the GST as a "good and simple tax regime" that will eliminate the compounding effects of multi-layered tax system. Touted as the most sweeping economic reform since Independence, GST subsumes a plethora of central and state levies and bring the country under a common market while ensuring better compliance.

Under GST, Mukherjee said the tax incidence will be transparent, enabling full removal of tax burden on exports and full incidence of domestic taxes on imports. However, a tax rate of 28% will be imposed on luxury items under it. "We have come together tonight at the central hall of parliament", Modi said.

"Customers were queuing up since morning only to check what GST rates goods will attract before deciding what to buy".

Businesses and consumers across India struggled to navigate the new Goods and Services Tax on its first day of launch on Saturday, with millions of shops and restaurants failing to record proper sales billings and consumers preferring to wait for the confusion and uncertainty to blow over. It is aimed at being comprehensive for most goods and services. Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Vice President Hamid Ansari were also present.

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