With only a few hours to go for the launch of the Goods and Services Tax, former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das said the government has prepared adequately for the roll-out. Preparations have been a matter of concern for a section of traders, who have held nationwide protests over the last two days, demanding a roll-back. Most opposition parties too, cited this issue and stayed away from the midnight launch.
"Over the last six to eight months, there have been a number of awareness and outreach programs for trades. The preparation has been quite adequate," Mr Das said.
Asked to compare it with the government's announcement of demonetisation in November, he said, "The difference is that demonetisation affected almost every individual in the country, GST is something which affects directly about 70 lakh registered traders. So, the problems are far more less and it has been preceded by several months of preparation".
The Economic Affairs Secretary, who retired last month, was part of Finance minister Arun Jaitley's A Team not for only the budget, but he was also closely associated with the notes ban and the framing of the GST.
Admitting to some amount of teething troubles for the next few months, the former revenue secretary said, "Things will iron out and all will be fine in a year's time," he said.
The government's flagship Goods and Services Tax, which is billed as "economic independence" for the nation, will be launched from the Central Hall of Parliament at midnight. It will be announced by a gong. Nearly 1,000 people - including industrialists and technocrats -- are expected to attend the ceremony.
The Congress and most of the opposition, however, are staying away from the midnight programme, citing concerns about the way the government was implementing GST. "The entire business community, especially small and medium ones, are scared and confused," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said.