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GST Not Perfect, But Negatives Exaggerated: NITI Aayog's Bibek Debroy

New Delhi:  Hours before the launch of the mega tax reform Goods and Services Tax or GST, Bibek Debroy, top economist and member of Centre’s policy think tank NITI Aayog, said the new tax regime is not perfect but both its positives and negatives are being exaggerated. Perfecting it will take time, as other nations have found out; and the GST Council will fine-tune it in the coming days, he added.

Speaking to NDTV in the run up to the launch, Mr Debroy said, “This is not an ideal GST. There are too many rates, there are still exemptions. Both the positives that you hear about which are more in terms of ideal GST and the negatives that you hear about both are somewhat exaggerated.”

He said a “proper GST” in most other countries has taken several years and that there are very few countries that have this tax regime. He said he was certain the GST Council would tweak certain aspects “as we go along”.

But the launch, he said, should be applauded as “because it is the start of a process”. “A lot of people did not expect this deadline to be adhered to because deadlines have come and gone in the past,” Mr Debroy said. 

The GST will replace nearly a dozen central and state taxes and the government says the new levy will break the barriers between the states and the Union Territories. It is divided into four broad tax categories of five, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, and various exceptions.

The opposition, which had also participated in drawing up the GST, has criticized it on several counts – the main being that the country is not ready for it.  Most parties will not be present for the midnight launch in Parliament’s Central hall. Nearly 1,000 people are expected to present in the venue to witness the rollout.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is returning from a foreign trip, has tweeted that GST is being executed by an “incompetent and insensitive government without planning foresight and institutional readiness”.