Jaitley turns down demands for deferring GST rollout

29 Jun 2017

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday rejected demands for deferring the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout saying the Constitution does not give luxury to delay the nation's biggest economic reform by six months.
Not ruling out a few initial glitches when more than a dozen state and central taxes are abolished and barriers between 29 states done away with, Jaitley said the system is fully geared up and will eventually smoothen itself out.
While there have been sporadic protests in some cities against implementing the GST without giving businesses more time to prepare, Trinamool Congress has decided not to attend the gala event planned in Central Hall of Parliament on June 30 midnight to usher in the mega tax reform.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the "hurried" roll out of the GST as "epic blunder" by the Centre and demanded deferring it by six months to help small businesses.
Jaitley, however, said the date of GST implementation, rules and tax rates had been decided through a consensus by the GST Council -- a body that is made up of representatives from each state as also the central government.
"Those who are talking in terms of deferring (GST) by 6 months and so on, that's a constitutionally impossible thing," the finance minister said.
The Constitutional amendment approved by Parliament in September last year gives time only till mid-September to replace the existing indirect tax structure by the GST. In absence of the GST, there will be a constitutional crisis as no tax can be levied on goods and services.
"More importantly there is a constitutional mandate, and the mandate is on September 15 you will lose your right to collect existing taxes. So, therefore, the alternate system has to come in place and hopefully, by that date the (GST) system will come into place in a more smooth manner," he said.
The GST Constitutional Amendment Bill provides for roll out of the Goods and Services Tax by September 15, failing which the government will lose its legal entitlement to collect taxes.