I write this on behalf of a number of persons collectively addressed as “We”: the Team TRU, other officials of the Department as well as elsewhere, academicians, innumerable taxpayers, tax advisors, business entities and representatives from the chambers of trade and industry and professional institutes.

The comprehensive taxation of services, that appeared a pipedream less than a year back, is now ready to be implemented.

In perhaps the most transparent exercises in Indian budget making, the idea of the Negative List originated in the first concept paper in August, 2011. This was fiercely debated by all, some understandably cautious or even skeptical, a few ruthlessly opposed, while a large majority displayed the foresight to look at the larger canvas; all making many valuable suggestions.

It was evident that we were measuring up to the challenge of remote budget-making entrusted to us. But we knew we had to do some more work. Despite the Negative List being operational in most parts of the world, we had to address our own uniqueness and in our way.

With the level of confidence and trust that we had won, it was natural that we were kept in the picture and informed which of our suggestions were accepted and which were not. The revised concept paper followed in November. We realized that the government was serious with this piece of progressive reform. We had to be likewise. Once again we tried our best to critique and comment on various proposals.

When the Budget announcements came in March, it was no shock or surprise. It was largely an affirmation of what we had known all along. We could see our collective efforts bear fruit.

The Department was also becoming far more reliant in entrusting us the responsibility of reading two rather lengthy draft guidance papers, trying to explain the whole concept and seeking our inputs so that very little was left for experimentation through litigation on either side.

Innumerable seminars organized by various chambers and professional institutes were very illuminating with the CBEC also breaking tradition by holding its own seminar for business in Delhi immediately after the budget followed by a well-attended seminar at its academy for the officers. Not to rest on that laurel alone, CBEC further reinforced learning and doubtclearing with seminars in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Chennai in June (Mumbai to follow soon), collaborating with industry associations and professional bodies and making it grossly interactive.

And now the final packaged version is before us on June 20, 2012 ready to be operationalised from July 1, 2012.

The head of the family: the Hon’ble Finance Minister of India, who has personally supported this entire initiative, guiding it intellectually and in all other possible ways, has very readily and graciously agreed to find time, out of his most busy schedule, to release the final version of this Educational Guide, indigenously produced and directed by We: The Team Negative List.