NATIONAL

No Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark; no GST without States: Pranab

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday assured the Lok Sabha that the Centre would not usurp the powers of the States by exercising any kind of veto on the issue of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Replying to a debate on Supplementary Demands for 2010-11, he said there was no question of the Centre interfering with the States' powers. “I've no intention of being a super Finance Minister.”

He was responding to BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and other members, who sought a clarification on media reports that the States opposed the GST fearing that the Centre intended usurping their powers by exercising its veto.

Just as there could be no Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark, there was no question of any GST regime without the States, Mr. Mukherjee said. “The States are the Prince of Denmark. They shall have their rights. I shall have mine. That basic structure cannot be altered.”

The Minister said the chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers would brief him on its report on Friday and he would meet the States later for convergence of views. He assured the House that he was using the committee and hadn't abandoned it. He would share his views with all parties.

Mr. Mukherjee outlined a road map for putting the GST in place by April 2011 after getting Parliament's nod for the Constitution amendment.

Strengthening security

The supplementary demands for Rs.54,588 crore include spending to make security more effective. Mr. Mukherjee said 400 police stations would have a minimum strength of 40 personnel and that required new raising in the east and Jammu and Kashmir.

Responding to persistent demands from the members, the Minister said the Centre would find a method of effectively involving them in the planning and execution of rural programmes in their districts.

He assured them that he would take up their demand with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.



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