New Delhi, April 12, 2017

Former finance minister P Chidambaram has said that a more realistic deadline for rolling out the goods and services tax was October 1, instead of the scheduled date of July 1.

While maintaining GST would be good for the country in the long-term, the senior Congress leader cautioned the government saying that implementation of the mega tax reform could be inflationary in the short-term.

"July 1 may not be a practical deadline for GST rollout. Instead, October 1 may be a more realistic deadline," Chidambaram said at a news conference when asked about his view on the deadline set by the Centre.

He cited the preparation time needed for small and medium-scale enterprises to get on to the new tax reform structure and the time needed for activating the GSTN platform as the main reasons why he thought October was a more realistic deadline.

GST would improve tax collection and plug tax evasion loopholes but may lead to higher inflation in the immediate future, he said. He said that Parliament could have passed better GST bills had the government accepted some Opposition amendments.

 "We had pointed out that they were imperfect bills and no attempt was made to make them less imperfect. The Rajya Sabha could have improved the bills, but that opportunity was denied when the government stubbornly turned down the demand that the bills be introduced, debated and passed as non-money bills," he said.

 He cited the countermanding of RK Nagar assembly bypoll in Tamil Nadu, on account of large-scale distribution of black money as bribe, to mock at the claims that demonetisation was meant to get rid of black money.

[The Economic Times]