• GST
    The opposition parties were invited, but Congress, TMC, RJD and the Left parties have refused to attend the midnight event.Raghavendra N
  • GST
    The opposition parties were invited, but Congress, TMC, RJD and the Left parties have refused to attend the midnight event.Raghavendra N
  • GST
    The opposition parties were invited, but Congress, TMC, RJD and the Left parties have refused to attend the midnight event.Raghavendra N
  • GST
    The opposition parties were invited, but Congress, TMC, RJD and the Left parties have refused to attend the midnight event.Raghavendra N

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), the country's biggest indirect tax reform, was launched at midnight by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Central Hall of the Parliament in New Delhi in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee.

The opposition parties were also invited to the launch, but the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Left parties have refused to attend the midnight event. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also sent an invite, but he declined.

Here are the highlights of the launch:

12:13 am IST:

12 midnight IST: GST, India's biggest tax reform, launched by PM Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee at the Central Hall in Parliament.

11:58 pm IST: "It is remarkable that 18 meetings held so far, all decisions have been taken by consensus in the council," says PM Modi.

11:57 pm IST: The president continues to speak even as the gong is sounded.

"The GST Council has surprised everyone by completing its task on time. GST is a product of broad consensus, a tribute to the maturity of Indian democracy. GST will provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry. It will subsume a lot of taxes at the state level and make things simple. GST will also make our exports more competitive. The GST will be monitored by a state of the art I-T system. It will give a strong incentive to buyers to buy and sellers to sell," says Mukherjee is his address to the country.

11:56 pm IST: "GST was first proposed in FY 2006-07. The empowered committee released the first discussion paper in 2007. The GST launch is momentous, it is significant for me because I worked for its implementation during my time as finance minister of this country," says President Mukherjee.

"I was closely involved in design & implementation of GST as then finance minister. I was confident that the GST was just a matter of time, it would be passed eventually. GST is a joint forum for the Centre and states, where neither can unilaterally take decisions," the President adds.

11:52 pm IST: "Introduction of GST is a momentous event for the nation. This historic moment is the culmination of 14-year long journey which began in Kolkata in December 2002... It is a tribute to maturity and wisdom of India's democracy," says President Mukherjee in Parliament.

11:50 pm IST: President Mukherjee speaks ahead of the launch in Parliament.

11:47 pm IST: PM Modi concludes his speech.

11:45 pm IST: "People who want to invest in India, it is easier for them to understand the investment climate... GST is not only ease of doing business, but a way of doing business... In reality it's 'Good and Simple Tax'... GST has potential to end harassment at hands of officers; hope traders will transfer its benefits to consumers," says PM Modi ahead of the launch.

11:43 pm IST: "As we expand horizontally, we need to ensure vertical growth as well. GST will end grey areas in bureaucracy. It is so simple that a class 12 student can help merchants file returns. It is time to stop the rumour bazaar. It is a time we concentrated on the development and betterment of this country," says the PM.

11:41 pm IST: "GST is something which is easy and transparent... GST will end inspector raj. There is minimal structure to GST which means that there will be a minimum burden on people... There are a lot of big words attached to GST, but it is very simple, it will help the poor people of the country," says PM Modi.

11:38 pm IST: "Albert Einstein said the most difficult thing to understand is the income tax. If he was here, he would ask what is happening," says PM Modi.

"The number of taxes have caused confusion in this country. Now we are free of that. GST is beyond economics... The country is moving forward due to a modern taxation system under the GST," the PM added.

11:36 pm IST:

11:34 pm IST: "Just as Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel unified India by helping several princely states subsume into a common entity, the GST will bring economic unification," PM Modi ahead of the launch.

11:32 pm IST: "GST is a work of Team India... GST is such a system which is easy, and will seek to stop black money and corruption... I want to congratulate the GST Council and all those who took the tax reform forward. Whoever forms future governments, they will abide by the pro-poor principle of the GST," says PM Modi.

11:28 pm IST: "From Ganganagar to Itanagar, from Leh to Lakshwadeep, the nation will see one nation, one tax," PM Modi in Parliament.

11:25 pm IST: "There couldn't have been a better place than the Central Hall for the GST launch," says PM Modi.

11:23 pm IST: "India is a shining example of cooperative federalism... This historic reform not achievement of any one government or party. It is the result of everyone's effort," says PM Modi.

11:20 pm IST: PM Modi speaks in Parliament ahead of the launch.

"The launch of the GST is not the achievement of a particular party or a particular government, It's a collective achievement... In a short while, India will move towards a new direction... We are deciding India's future course," says PM Modi ahead of the GST launch.

11:18 pm IST: "GST Council met 18 times. There was never any need for voting because of the unanimity... It is based on the principle of equivalance, no extra burden on the poor," says Jaitley.

11:16 pm IST: "In a large and complex federal system, with a central government, 29 states, UTs and multiple interests, we have managed to pull off a constitutional amendment. This is a high point for Indian democracy," Jaitley at the GST launch in Parliament.

11:15 pm IST: "We have an important task at hand. At the midnight hour, India will undertake its most important tax reform and will open the country to limitless possibilities," says Jaitley adding that the debate surrounding the amendments proves that India can pass important legislations with maturity.

11:14 pm IST: "The constitution says India is a union of state. GST will be for One Tax, One Market and One Nation. GST will begin a new journey for India," saysd Jaitley

11:12 pm IST: "It will be an India that will write a new destiny... The journey of GST began a long time ago," Jaitley at the launch of the GST in Parliament.

11:11 pm IST: "GST is an important achievement for the whole country," FInance MinisterJaitley says while making introductory remarks ahead of the launch at the Parliament.

11:03 pm IST: 

10:59 pm IST:

10:55 pm IST: PM Modi arrives at the Parliament for the GST launch. President Mukherjee also present.

10:52 pm IST:

10:40 pm IST: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar was quoted by the Indian Express as saying that GST would improve the economic situation of farmers and labourers.

10:30 pm IST: Business mogul Ratan Tata arrives at the Parliament for the GST launch.

10:05 pm IST:

10 pm IST: Jaitley will reportedly address media ahead of the midnight launch of the GST reform in the Centrall Hall of the Parliament.

9:55 pm IST: The next three GST Council meetings will be held on the first Saturday of the month starting from August 2017, ANI reported.

9:45 pm IST:

Jaitley chaired a GST Council meeting today evening wherein it was decided that the tax rate on fertilisers would be reduced from 12 percent to 5 percent. The GST rate on exclusive parts of tractors has also been reduced from 28 percent to 18 percent.

The development comes amid protests by farmers organisations which had described the GST rates as draconian and anti-farmer.

9:30 pm IST:

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi had on Friday lashed out at the Centre for being "insensitive" and also said that the GST launch and implementation was a "tamasha" (gimmick). He added that the Centre was rushing with the GST reform in a "half-baked" manner as a "self-promotional spectacle." He further added that the GST was being rolled out without any planning or foresight as it had happened during demonetisation.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today rejected the 'self- promotion' charge saying they should focus on mainstream rather than clinging on to "fringe" issues. He appealed to the parties that have declined to atent the launch to rise above partisan politics and take part in the event.

"Parties should rise above partisan politics. The Congress party had the opportunity to rise to the occasion. The challenge before the Congress party is now that they have to decide whether they will take fringe positions or will choose mainstream position," Jaitley told Aaj Tak GST Conclave.

9:15 pm IST: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was quoted by CNN-News18 as saying:

"While GST is an important step towards reforming the tax system in this country, the hyped midnight celebration is uncalled for and not made in good taste. The transition can be disruptive for many small and medium businesses in the country."

He added: "Also, many experts have questioned the reliability of software powering the system. It is time to allay the fears of the people. It is also urgent to make sure that companies comply with the anti-profiteering clause and ensure that the benefits are transferred to the ordinary citizens."

9:12 pm IST: PM modi reaches Vigyan Bhawan to meet GST Council members from across states.

9 pm IST: According to the Indian Express, the guest list includes several politicians and well-known personalities -- Vice President Hamid Ansari, BJP president Amit Shah, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former PM HD Deva Gowda, MP and veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar.

Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, businessman Ratan Tata, current and former RBI governors, former Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal, 'Metro man' E Sreedharan and Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi have also been invited among others.