Jaitley also credited the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for envisioning the “landmark” reform which, he said, was later pursued by the Congress party.
“The GST was envisioned by a committee for tax reforms set up by Vajpayee which in 2003 recommended that all taxes should be merged and there should be only one tax,” Jaitley told a public meeting of traders and Bharatiya Janata Party workers at Talkatora Stadium here.
He added that after the government changed, then Finance Minister P. Chidambram, “who may have seen some merit in it, set 2010 as deadline for rolling out the GST but could not bring the reform”.
Even after Pranab Mukherjee introduced a Constitutional Amendment to bring the GST, it could not be passed as the bill at that time favoured consumption states but did not compensate manufacturing states for their loss, the Finance Minister said.
Jaitley said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conviction from the very first day to integrate India in economic terms which led to the GST becoming a reality.
With Jammu and Kashmir also coming on board, the country was economically integrated in a true sense, he said.
“While Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee succeeded in bringing about political and geographical integration of the country, economic integration did not happen as economic rules continued to vary from state to state.
“After 70 years, the Narendra Modi government has successfully persuaded all state governments to give up 17 types of local taxes and 23 types of cess levied by them in their states and accept the GST system,” Jaitley said.
The Finance Minister said the government did not force its decision on any state including Jammu and Kashmir but showed them the business and revenue loss they will suffer by not implementing GST in comparison to the neighbouring state which would.
“With the implementation of the GST (from July 1), the dream of economic integration of India has come true,” he added.
Jaitley said the soul of Syama Prasad Mookerjee (founder of BJP’s predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh) who propounded the idea of ‘Ek rashtra, ek vidhan’ (one nation, one regulation) must have attained peace after the Jammu and Kashmir assembly passed the SGST Bill.