Kolkata : Raising concerns over the launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime from July 1, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the "unnecessary disastrous hurry" to roll-out the pan-India tax regime is "another epic blunder" of the Centre, after the demonetisation move.
"We are deeply concerned about the GST implementation. After demonetisation, this unnecessary disastrous hurry is another epic blunder of the Centre. We have been for GST from the beginning but are very worried now with the way the central government is going ahead with the implementation," she said.
"Our repeated suggestions to take some more time to properly implement the GST have fallen on deaf ears," she said in a Facebook post.
To protest the move, the Trinamool Congress will not attend the June 30 midnight programme in Parliament to mark the GST roll-out, she said.
"Our Parliamentary Party has decided not to attend the June 30 midnight programme at Parliament House to celebrate the GST, as a mark of protest," Banerjee said.
She said the entire business community, especially the small and medium units, was scared and confused.
"Only 60 hours are left before this ill-planned launch and no one knows for sure what's happening!" she said.
Later in the day, Banerjee said the Centre was rolling out the GST in haste and hinted that state Finance Minister Amit Mitra might not attend the GST council meeting to be held in Delhi on June 30.
"The common people are getting harassed by this hasty decision. Amit Mitra might not go for the GST Council meeting on the 30th. Why would he go? They are not listening to him," Banerjee told reporters while leaving the state secretariat Nabanna
Accusing the Centre of stopping the state government from utilising its funds for various schemes, the Chief Minister claimed that the situation in the nation is "worse than the Emergency" imposed under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 70's.
"They are compelling us to stop utilising government funds for various schemes. This is a bad time for the nation. Even during the Emergency period such destructive decisions were not taken. This is an even bigger emergency than the Emergency period," she alleged.
Attacking the BJP government, she said: "The current ruling party at the Centre had initially strongly opposed GST for over seven years, and suddenly did a somersault on coming to office as a champion of GST."
Banerjee also alleged essential commodities such as medicines were "not available in many places and prices of various commodities" were rising for lack of clarity and mismanagement.
"We have always been fighting for maintaining the federal structure of the country, even if Bengal at times was the lone voice and conscience of the GST Council," she said.
Banerjee said there are almost 20 different taxes in the present tax regime and it was felt that one single tax and integration of all markets across the country would provide big relief to all.
She said the three-day by textile industries provides the evidence for her party's deep concern on the lack of preparedness for the new tax regime.
"We are saying that the economy is not yet ready to face the GST from July 1...small business entities are not yet ready with the basic requirements like invoice, accounting system, IT system, etc. Another piece of evidence of unpreparedness comes from the fact that the Return Form had to be simplified for the first six months as all systems are not in place," she said.
It was "shocking" that the e-way bill system has not yet been designed and states were being asked to run their own systems as a stop-gap arrangement, Banerjee said.
"We feel, at least six months will further be necessary to notify all rules and procedures and give enough time to the stakeholders, particularly the small and medium enterprises, to successfully implement the GST," she said, adding that otherwise a chaotic situation may arise in our vast economy for which the "Government of India will be primarily responsible".
"I hope the voices of the people and businesses are being heard and being paid heed to by the central government," Banerjee added.
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