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Arun Jaitley Makes First Public Address in 2 Months, Says Best of GST Yet to Come

Jaitley in his 21-minute speech said the GST has helped in boosting direct tax collections in the April-June quarter of this fiscal.


Updated:July 1, 2018, 9:15 PM IST

New Delhi: Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday made his first public appearance in two months via a video conferencing when he addressed the first anniversary of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), India's biggest economic reform since Independence.

Jaitley stopped coming to office in early April owing to a kidney-related ailment. He underwent a kidney transplant on May 14, following which the charge of the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs, which he had been holding since the BJP stormed to power in May 2014, was given on an interim basis to Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal.

While he was being treated for kidney ailment, Jaitley on May 3 chaired the GST Council meeting, his last public appearance.

Since his surgery, he is confined to a controlled environment of his home to avoid contracting infection. He has held meetings with finance ministry officials through video conferencing from his home but had not made any public appearance.

Relaxed in a white pinstripe shirt, Jaitley in his 21-minute speech said the GST has helped in boosting direct tax collections in the April-June quarter of this fiscal. He also said that as tax collections go up, further rate rationalisation would be possible.

“... The long-term impact of GST and on India's GDP growth, on ease of doing business, on expansion of trade and business and make in India and honest trade and business centres, is going to be significant. I'm confident that the best of GST in terms of its contribution to society is yet to come,” Jaitley said.

Stressing that India has been able to implement the major indirect tax reform in the least disruptive manner, Jaitley said best of the new regime in terms of contribution to the society was yet to come.

Observing that countries implementing GST had witnessed major disruption, Jaitley said he, too, had felt that it would cause disruption in the Indian economy.

“I myself used to use the word disruptive when it came to major reform like GST because it takes time to settle down. But after one year of experience I'm not too sure whether I can use the word disruptive for GST reform," said Jaitley while addressing a function to mark completion of one year of the new tax reform through video conferencing.

“The smooth manner in which the changeover has taken place is almost unprecedented anywhere in the world ... I'm sure we have seen the first year where we have seen effective gains this is only the short-term or at best medium term of GST that the best of GST in terms of its contribution to society is yet to come,” he said.

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