New Delhi: Government has announced that it will celebrate July 1 as GST Day and the first anniversary of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) coming into force will see a grand event here on Sunday.
GST was launched on July 1, 2017, in a majestic ceremony held in the Central Hall of Parliament at midnight of June 30, 2017. The first year has been remarkable, both for the sheer variety of challenges that its implementation has thrown up and for the willingness and ability of policymakers and tax administrators to rise to these challenges and respond befittingly.
More importantly, the first year of GST has been an example to the world of the readiness of the Indian taxpayer to be a partner in this unprecedented reform of Indian taxation. Accordingly, it has been decided that July 1 shall be commemorated as 'GST Day'.
Union Minister for Railways, Coal, Finance & Corporate Affairs Piyush Goyal will preside over as the chief guest of the event and Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla will be the guest of honour.
Before implementation of GST, Indian taxation system was a farrago of Central, state and local area levies. In the constitutional scheme, taxation power on goods was with Central Government but it was limited up to the stage of manufacture and production while states had the power to tax sale and purchase of goods. The Centre had the exclusive power to tax services.
This sort of division of taxing powers created a grey zone which led to legal disputes since the determination of what constitutes goods or service became increasingly difficult.
Implementing a tax reform as vast as GST in a diverse country like India, required the reconciliation of interests of various states with that of the Centre. Some of these issues included origin-based versus destination-based taxation, rate structure and compensation, dispute settlement, inclusion of alcohol and petroleum products under GST. Resolution of these issues took some time and finally, the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in Parliament on December 19, 2014 and since enacted as Constitution (101st Amendment) Act, 2016 with effect from September 16, 2016.
As provided for in Article 279A of the Constitution, the Goods and Services Tax Council (the Council) was notified with effect from September 12, 2016. The Council comprises the Union Finance Minister (who is the Chairman of the Council), the Minister of State (Revenue) and the State Finance/Taxation Ministers as members and is empowered to make recommendations to the Union and the States on all GST-related issues.
The Council has met 27 times and no occasion has arisen so far that required voting to decide any matter. All the decisions have been taken by consensus. This is a fitting tribute to the spirit of cooperative federalism which has prevailed throughout all Centre-State interactions in relation to all aspects of GST.