Jaitley urges Opposition parties to reconsider boycott of GST launch

New Delhi: On the eve of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) roll out, when many political parties are announcing they will stay away from the mega launch, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said they should display broad shoulders and own up to this consensus decision that was taken through a 15-year-long process.

“I can say this without fear of contradiction that there has been this exercise of this kind of political consultation and political consensus in bringing the GST. And now those who have been a party to this consultation and decision making process must also accept,” he told reporters here on Thursday.

“I hope every political party will reconsider and revisit its decisions and be a party to the launch of a massive reform to which they have been themselves privy to,” he added.

Stating that it was not a decision made by the central government, Jaitley said: “It’s equally a decision which 31 State governments and Union Territories have been a party to. And these are representing various political complexions. They must now display broad shoulders and own up this decision.”

The Congress, the DMK, the TMC and the RJD have already announced their decision to boycott the GST roll-out event at the Central Hall of Parliament taking place at midnight on Friday.

“Symbolic boycotts are not evidence of any kind of disassociation from these decisions. As far as the government is concerned, it remains committed to the GST as to any other reform process because we believe this is probably the single most important taxation reform in the last 70 years. And I am sure it will prove beneficial both to the economy and the country itself,” Jaitley said.

The Finance Minister elaborated that consultations were held with each political party in the last 15 years.

“While amending the constitution to provide for the GST, we changed certain positions to factor in what the Congress party was insisting on. So there was a broad-based consensus. Once the constitutional amendment was unanimously passed, which means that every political party had committed to it, the GST Council came into existence,” Jaitley said.

“Different legislations, five of them by the central parliament, one by each one of the state assemblies, 31 of them in all, passed almost unanimously by different houses of parliament or by the state assemblies and every state government irrespective of political affiliation committed.”

He said the GST Council was a perfect experiment in a federal institution where 31 state governments and the centre together took hundreds of decisions and each one of them by consensus.