A sales tax revolution took effect in India on Saturday after a midnight ceremony in parliament.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee together launched the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) by pressing a button.
The nationwide system replaces a complex set of federal and state levies and is India’s biggest tax reform in the 70 years since independence from British colonial rule.
The aim is to harmonise the economy, simplify and modernise business and fuel growth – moves that would boost Modi’s credentials before a planned re-election bid in 2019.
“With GST, the dream of ‘One India, Great India’ will come true,” Modi said.
He told a select gathering that the tax was a catalyst to “remove the imbalance in trade in the country” and “give a boost to the promotion of exports”.
Friendly towards the common citizen, advantageous for industry, a simple tax structure & economic integration…here is more about GST. pic.twitter.com/EbuhuUKSsN— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1 juillet 2017
Modi was joined by his cabinet colleagues, India’s central bank chief, a former prime minister and major company executives including Ratan Tata.
The launch, however, was boycotted by several opposition parties including the Congress Party, which first proposed the tax reform before it fell from power three years ago.