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Mamata Banerjee opposes GST launch, Trinamool MPs to skip 30 June event

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-06-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday took to Facebook to warn the Centre that it was about to commit “another epic blunder”—after demonetisation—by introducing the goods and services tax (GST) from 1 July.

In protest, MPs from the Trinamool Congress party will not attend the 30 June event at Parliament to mark the introduction of GST, Banerjee announced on Wednesday.

Small and medium enterprises are not ready for the new tax regime, she said, adding that the “unnecessary” haste in implementing it will have “disastrous” implications for India’s economy. At least six more months are required for smooth transition into the new tax regime, the West Bengal chief minister said.

“Evidence of unpreparedness comes from the fact that the return form had to be simplified for the first six months,” Banerjee said. “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.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had “strongly opposed GST for over seven years and suddenly did a somersault” after coming to power in 2014, she said in her Facebook post, adding that it is now trying to claim all credit for it.

Banerjee has been supporting GST since 2009 but West Bengal’s finance minister Amit Mitra drove a hard bargain to make sure the state’s interests were adequately protected under the new tax regime.

On Wednesday, Banerjee said there are almost 20 different taxes in the current regime, and that integration of these taxes will bring “big relief” to businesses, but hasty implementation of GST could lead to a “chaotic situation”.

Essential commodities such as medicines are already in short supply and prices of others have shot up, Banerjee said, while appealing to the Centre to reconsider its plan to implement GST from 1 July.

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