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Convene virtual meeting of GST Council: Amit Mitra to Sitharaman

Convene virtual meeting of GST Council: Amit Mitra to Sitharaman

Kolkata: Bengal Finance minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday wrote to his counterpart at the Centre Nirmala Sitharaman, urging her to convene a virtual meeting of the GST Council to discuss the "alarming" shortfall in terms of compensation to states. "The GST Council was mandated to meet once in every quarter. Unfortunately, that has been violated twice over, by not calling a meeting for two consecutive quarters — not even virtually.

"This has undermined a federalist institution, where all states are represented irrespective of political parties, regions or sizes of population, along with the GoI, I fear that not holding meetings regularly may also lead to a trust deficit," Mitra said in a letter to Sitharaman.

He said in order to restore the sanctity of the council, a virtual meeting should be convened, as was done in October last year.

Mitra also said a discussion on the shortfall expected in the compensation to states is urgently needed.

"As per GoI projection, the shortfall was expected to be to the tune of Rs 1,56,164 crore in 2021-22, without taking into consideration the impact of COVID Wave-2.

"Now, due to second wave and lockdowns, the compensation will be much higher than what was projected earlier. This is undoubtedly deeply depressing," he wrote.

Since the GST council was mandated to meet once in every quarter, Mitra raised apprehension that "it may lead to a trust deficit" as the "solemn mandate has been violated twice" with no meeting being called for two consecutive quarters and the meeting is also essential in "order to restore the sanctity of the council".

Drawing the attention of the Union Finance minister, Mitra mentioned the "Procedure and Conduct of Business Regulations of the Goods and Services Taxes Council" which provides that the "Council shall meet at least once in every quarter of the financial year". He further stated that not holding a GST council meeting every quarter "is not in the line with the very principle of cooperative federalism".

The veteran economist, who has been keeping unwell for some time, was virtually sworn-in as the Finance minister of West Bengal earlier this week.

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