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Tryst with GST: Govt plans midnight launch; event may be held in central hall of Parliament

Like India's tryst with destiny on the midnight of August 15, 1947, the government is planning to roll out the goods and services tax from the central hall of Parliament on July 1 after all the states came on board on Sunday for the most ambitious tax reform initiative since Independence. Government sources said a mega launch for GST + is planned, where the focus is on ensuring that consumers gain from the initiative+ through lower incidence of taxes as the cascading effect of multiple taxes — from central excise and VAT to service tax and entry taxes — is done away with. Although the original plan was to launch the initiative, which has been in the works for over a decade, from Vigyan Bhawan, which has been home to a majority of the meetings of the GST Council comprising Union and state finance ministers, other options such as the central hall are also being explored, where state leaders will also be invited, said sources. We don't have the luxury of time to defer the implementation of GST. The Council decided categorically it will be implemented from July 1 onwards," finance minister Arun Jaitley said after a GST Council meeting on Sunday, where rates for all goods and services were fixed and almost all the rules were finalised. On June 30, the GST Council will meet to remove remaining glitches. "There is no doubt now. GST will be rolled out out from July 1," Kerala FM Thomas Isaac said. Only a few states are left to enact state legislations with Jammu & Kashmir seen as the sole glitch. West Bengal+ , which had been vocal in its opposition since demonetisation, has promulgated an ordinance and the state leadership is learnt to have pledged its support to GST. Jaitley said that Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Kerala would enact their laws over the next few days. J&K, however, is currently not on board despite the PDP-BJP government being keen to enact laws as National Conference has flagged concerns over the state losing autonomy. Abdul Rahim Rather, J&K finance minister during the NC regime, who was pushing GST in his role as the chairman of the empowered committee of state FMs, is now leading the charge against GST laws.

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