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GST: Bengal's active role slashes Centre's burden

GST: Bengals active role slashes Centres burden
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Kolkata: When the Centre is almost sitting silently in terms of releasing nearly Rs 5,000 crore GST compensation, the Bengal government has played an active role in reducing the same by ensuring a record GST collection and settlement of dues despite the Covid situation.

The Centre had assured states of compensation for any revenue loss incurred by them from the date of GST implementation (July 1 in 2017) for a period of five years. With the Centre not releasing the same after February, the Centre now owes to the Bengal government a whopping amount of over Rs 4,900 crore. The sum would have been much higher if the state government had not made a record SGST and IGST collection of more than Rs 3,100 crore in the month of March. The SGST collection is only Rs 2019 crore, which is an all-time high in the state since the GST regime came into existence.

A senior official of the state Finance department said: "The GST compensation would have been much higher if the state had not made the record collection. Despite all our efforts that helped in reducing the compensation that the Centre needs to pay to the state, they are delaying the release of the due amount. All steps were also taken to ensure collection from GST defaulters as well."

The SGST collection that used to revolve around Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,600 crore in the past four months before March, as per GSTM the collection of March crossed the Rs 2,000 crore mark setting a new record. Moreover, around Rs 200 crore collection was only from GST defaulters in the month of February and March.

At the same time, the Bengal government has also ensured a collection of Rs 635 crore against settlement of disputes of VAT and entry tax till September in 2020-21 fiscal. It includes Rs 485 crore in the month of March itself.

It was in February when Bengal received the GST compensation for the last time, amounting to Rs 4,400 crore. Prior to this, the state had received Rs 600 crore and Rs 800 crore in November and December respectively.

This comes when the last meeting of the GST Council was held seven months ago on October 5 in 2020 and finally the next meeting of the council is going to be held on May 28 only after state Finance minister Amit Mitra wrote to his counterpart in the Centre Nirmala Sitharaman requesting to convene a virtual meeting immediately when the GST shortfall is expected to increase than projected due to the impact of the Covid second wave in the state.

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