Centre Giving Short Shrift to our GST Demands: Bengal FM

West Bengal finance minister AMIT MITRA said an “majoritarian” approach is taking over the Goods and Service Tax (GST) council, which has till now worked on a consensus mechanism for which states have given up 70% of their taxing rights.

MITRA said the proposals given by council members on zero sanitizer and testing kit, which could save the Lives of during the pandemic, were not allowed in the GST council’s meeting held last Saturday. He also alleged that voices like his were “ignored and muzzled” during the meeting and his microphone muted, a charge refuted by Union government officials.

Tried to help people in the time of COVID and thus we requested zero rating for a temporary period. But the Centre has become an omnipotent authority.’’ He also gave the example of council members not being informed of the GST Council meeting not taking place for seven months. “The only federalist institution where all sates are present, this structure has become ubiquitous, omnipotent, authoritarian and majoritarian.”

The council, in its meeting held last Saturday, decided to temporarily lower rates on COVID -RELATED items to 5% until September 30. GST on ambulances has been lowered to 12% from 28% and that on electric furnaces used in crematoriums to 5% from 18% zero rating or exempting GST altogether can lead to accumulation of tax credit, a union government official said on condition of anonymity, adding that this was the prime rears behind the group of ministers (GOM) not favoring it. The official said the council had accepted the recommendations and even gone further in some cases.

MITRA had also written to union finance minister NIRMALA SARAMAN after the meeting on Saturday, expressing dissent regarding the decisions taken. He had also said he was not allowed to speak, a charge that was countered by the minister of state for finance ANURAG THAKUR through a series of tweets.   S-ET

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