Hyderabad: Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would usher in “economic freedom” in the country.
He said the initial hiccups that may arise in its implementation are not “insurmountable”.
Naidu was addressing an event here organised on the occasion of Chartered Accountants Day.
“What we are getting (with GST) is economic freedom.
Sardar Patel is called unifier of India. Now, history will remember Prime Minister Narendra Modi as unifier of the economy,” he said.
Acknowledging that there would be initial hiccups and problems as the new tax regime is rolled out today, Naidu, however, said they are not “insurmountable”.
“Yes, there will be some problems. But, the problems are not insurmountable,” the Information and Broadcasting Minister said.
Citing Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as examples, he said different states have expressed concerns and the GST council would look into it.
Taking a dig at opposition parties who boycotted the midnight launch event of GST, Naidu said they stood isolated and that it (GST) was not the product of Modi or Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
“Isolation seems to be their (opposition) consolation.
It is not a product of Modi or Jaitley,” he said.
The GST came into effect after all state assemblies and the parliament endorsed it, he said.
Referring to the criticism that the country is not prepared for GST, he said there were some, when India got Independence, who questioned if the country was ready for it.
“Given the levels of illiteracy, poverty, gender inequality and social diversity, many western commentators even said that India would not see the second general elections.
“We have proved such gloomy forecasts and prophecies wrong,” he said.
On comments that some sections of the trade and industry are still not ready to shift to the new tax regime, he said the government has been saying that the GST will be rolled out from July 1.
It is also not correct to say that that the government has not given sufficient time, Naidu said.
“Those who are not ready would never be ready even if they were given a year more,” he said.
Defending different GST slab structures, Naidu said a single rate structure is illogical and untenable as a wide range of goods and services are used by a range of people belonging to different categories of society.
“In addition, some deliberate misleading campaign is on saying that tax payers would be required to now file 37 returns in a year. This is totally false. Only one return is to be filed per month,” Naidu said.
A lot of effort has been put in by the government to ensure that the GST roll out is as smooth as possible, he said.
“The ultimate beneficiaries of GST are the common people, the buyers and the sellers, the trade and industry.
With every chain of economic activity gaining from it, India is the ultimate gainer,” he said.