Principal Chief Advisor Amit Mitra to the Chief Minister of West Bengal wrote Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a letter on Wednesday to call an urgent GST Council meeting which was not met for over four and half months.
In a letter to the Finance Minister, Amit Mitra who was the former chairman of the Empowered committee of state finance minister and principal chief Advisor of West Bengal cited regulations for the GST Council. He drew attention to Rule 6 Procedure & Conduct of Business Regulations of the GST Council in the undertaking of Article 279A (8) of the India Constitution, which states: The GST Council shall meet at least once in every quarter of the financial year.
“However, in absolute violation of this sincere provision, you have not yet called a single GST council meeting (physical or virtual) for over the last four and a half months,” he said in the letter. He further added; There was no intimation of any emergency communicated to the Minister of State or Finance, of West Bengal or any Member of the GST Council".
Mitra further said that the reports of the Ministers of two Groups on GST rate rationalisation and GST on casinos, online gaming and horse racing, which were established last year, are still awaited. The GoM on rate rationalisation had in June submitted only an interim report, while the GoM on casinos, online gaming and horse racing was given an extension to review its decisions.
The GST Council, chaired by Sitharaman and having her counterparts from all states, last met on June 28-29 in Chandigarh. The Council was slated to meet next in August at Madurai but no meeting has happened since then.
He pointed out that in the "federalist spirit", all states are doing stellar work in increasing GST collections which benefits the central government as much as it helps the states. "For example, the policy of zero tolerance for GST return default, by the West Bengal Government, has led to a sharp rise in return filing and thereby, GST collections. From 70% return filing in the previous year, it has risen to 93 per cent during the months of April-October, 2022. Similar may be the case in several other states as well.
The States are also conducting scrutiny of returns copiously and have taken anti-evasion drives consistently," he said, adding that not following the Rules of conduct is a case of “severe undermining of the only Federalist institution where Ministers of all states and Union Territories come together, under your Chairpersonship”.
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Source: The Hindu Businessline
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