The government as well as the ruling BJP have drawn lessons from the widespread criticism that came their way during the demonetisation drive in November and will make all efforts to ensure the implementation of goods and services tax is a smooth affair. They will field ministers and office-bearers across the country to deal with any condemnation that comes from the Opposition and in the public sphere.
With clear indications that at least the first quarter post-GST implementation will be a “period of challenges”, the PMO has called for an all-out effort on part of the Centre to ensure a smooth transition period. Cooperation of states, too, will be vital. Union ministers will be using various public forums and media to assure people that GST is going to benefit them in the long run and they need not have any apprehensions. The government has asked its ministers to visit state capitals from July. 2-7 and address bodies engaged in business to allay their fears. The exercise, which has already begun in a way with ministers talking to the media about the positive aspects of GST, will continue for three months.
“Centre and states have to work together to spread awareness about GST procedures to tide over the teething issues. Central ministries have been told to hold 100 awareness programmes apiece from July 1 to address any concerns and spread awareness about GST measures. Similarly, all BJP state chief ministers have been told to send their ministers and MLAs in the field to address concerns of people and traders so that the transition to GST is smooth over the next three months,” a senior government official said.
Some states like UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and MP are said to have already prepared a roster for their ministers and MLAs to visit constituencies and address concerns of businessmen on GST.
PM Modi will address on Saturday a gathering of trader associations, chartered accountants, various chambers of commerce and industry and businesspeople at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in the Capital. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, power minister Piyush Goyal, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan will also speak on GST in the programme.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, which is organising the programme, has made similar arrangements in various state capitals. In Mumbai, roads minister Nitin Gadkari, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis will address trader associations, chartered accountants and various chambers of business. Among others, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be in Chennai; while parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar and railway minister Suresh Prabhu will travel to Bengaluru. Union ministers Kalraj Mishra, Mahesh Sharma, Niranjana Jyoti and Anupriya Patel will be in Lucknow with UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
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