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PM Modi wants GST explained to common man, govt plans mega public outreach

PM Narendra Modi has asked ministers and MPs to engage in a major public outreach over the goods and services tax+ (GST) with legislation related to the tax reform expected to be passed by Parliament soon. The PM told a recent meeting of the Cabinet that the government needs to vigorously explain the benefits of the tax reform+ that he thinks will be a significant milestone for the NDA government. He is understood to have spoken of the need to involve the party organisation and MPs as well. Finance minister Arun Jaitley is expected to introduce four bills related to GST in Parliament on Monday. In the evening, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has organised a workshop for lawmakers who will deliberate on the bills in the coming days. This will be followed by a presentation before the council of ministers on Tuesday where Jaitley and his team are expected to explain the details and the benefits. Modi has flagged the need to explain the tax measures with the common man as a key target for his ministers and party MPs as the government believes the benefits of one of the biggest tax reform initiatives needs to be communicated properly, especially when there are concerns over the impact on prices. Publicity through media channels is already underway with badminton star P V Sindhu featuring in an advertisement but more is expected to follow. The exercise comes as the GST Council, comprising state finance ministers and the Centre, is ready with the final plan and is hoping to roll out GST from July, three months behind the original deadline. But briefing lawmakers is only a small part of the blitzkrieg lined up by the finance ministry, which has instructed its commissioners to fan out in the field and work along with the state tax bureaucracy. Officers have been asked to organise at least one town hall meeting with tax practitioners, lawyers and businessmen in every town which has a population of one lakh or more. "In Mumbai and Delhi, we will have hundreds of meetings with trade bodies and other stakeholders," said a source. Detailed FAQs and other publicity material have been prepared by the finance ministry along with power point presentations that will be used during the town hall meetings. While this will be shared with the field officers, the material will be translated into local languages.

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