Millennium Post

GST shortfall: Centre permits 20 states to raise `68,825 cr via market borrowing

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday permitted 20 states to raise additional Rs 68,825 crore through open market borrowings to bridge the revenue shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision comes a day after the GST Council meeting failed to reach a consensus on the stalemate over the Centre's proposal of states borrowing against future GST collections to make up for the shortfall.

The projected total GST compensation shortfall in the current fiscal stands at Rs 2.35 lakh crore.

The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, has granted permission to 20 states to raise an additional amount of Rs 68,825 crore through open market borrowings, an official statement said.

"Additional borrowing permission has been granted at the rate of 0.50 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to those States who have opted for Option- 1 out of the two options suggested by the Ministry of Finance to meet the shortfall arising out of GST implementation," it said.

In the meeting of the GST Council held on August 27, it said, these two options were put forward and were subsequently communicated to the states on August 29.

"Twenty States have given their preferences for Option-1. These States are - Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Eight States are yet to exercise an option," it said.

The statement further said facilities available to the states which choose Option 1 include a special borrowing window, coordinated by the Ministry of Finance, to borrow the amount of shortfall in revenue through issue of debt.

The total shortfall in the revenue of the states on this account has been estimated at around Rs 1.1 lakh crore.

States have been permitted "to borrow the final instalment of 0.5 per cent of GSDP out of the 2 per cent additional borrowings permitted by the Government of India in view of the COVID pandemic, waiving the reforms condition", it said.

As a result, Maharashtra now gets additional borrowing window of Rs 15,394 crore, followed by Uttar Pradesh Rs 9,703 crore, Karnataka Rs 9,018 crore, Gujarat Rs 8,704.00 crore and Andhra Pradesh Rs 5,051 crore. Among others, Haryana gets permission to borrow Rs 4,293 crore, Madhya Pradesh Rs 4,746 crore, Bihar Rs 3,231 crore and Odisha Rs 2,858 crore.

According to the statement, the Department of Expenditure had on May 17 provided additional borrowing limit of up to 2 per cent of GSDP to the states.

The final instalment of 0.5 per cent out of this 2 per cent limit was linked to carrying out at least three out of four reforms stipulated by the Government of India.

However, in case of states who have exercised Option-1 to meet the shortfall arising out of GST implementation, the condition of carrying out the reforms to avail the final instalment of 0.5 per cent of GSDP has been waived.

"Thus, the 20 States, who have exercised Option-1, have become eligible to raise an amount of Rs 68,825 crore through open market borrowings. Action on the special borrowing window is being taken separately," it added.

Earlier in the day, sources in the finance ministry said states can resort to borrowing to bridge the deficit in the GST revenue and Centre will soon come out with a mechanism to facilitate the move.

According to the sources, the states which have opted for borrowing intend to tap the market during the festive season.

The mechanism in this regard is being worked out and it will be finalised soon, the sources said.

Sources further said the Attorney General had clarified that the GST Council has no mandate over borrowing. It is Article 293 of the Constitution which governs borrowing activity of the Centre and the states.

As per Article 293, if states decide to borrow, they can do so, they said, adding a number of states have said they want to borrow before the festive season begins.

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