Former West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday wrote to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking an urgent meeting of the the Goods and Services Tax ( GST) Council., which he underlined had not been held in the past four-and-a-half months.
Dr. Mitra, who is principal chief advisor to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee observed that Rule 6 of the Procedure & Conduct of Business Regulations of the GST Council explicitly stated that the “Council shall meet at least once in every quarter of the financial year”.
“Yet, in utter violation of this solemn provision, you have not called a single meeting of the Council (physical or virtual) over the last four-and-a-half months,” wrote Dr. Mitra. “Not even an intimation of any exigency was communicated to the Minister of State, Finance of West Bengal, or any other member of the GST council,” noted the economist, who was one of the founder members of GST Council.
Observing that the outcome of two Groups of Ministers (GOM), formed on 24.09.2021 and 24.05.2021 were still to be finalised, with only an interim report submitted by one of them, Dr. Mitra said the Council needed to meet to resolve the crucial issues these ministerial panels had been tasked to review. He also pointed out that in the “Federalist spirit” all States were doing stellar work in increasing GST collections, which benefited the Central government as much as it benefited the States. The West Bengal government’s ‘ zero tolerance’ on default in filing of GST returns had helped lift filing compliance to 93% during the April-October period, from 70% in the previous year, he asserted.
Dr. Mitra’s missive to the Union Finance Minister comes a day after Ms. Banerjee fired a salvo by saying the Centre should stop collecting GST if it didn’t clear the dues it owed to the States.