Amit Mitra, Principal chief advisor to the Chief Minister of West Bengal has urged the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to call for a meeting of the GST Council urgently as it has not met for over four and half months.
In a letter to the Finance Minister, Mitra who is also a founder member of the GST Council and the former chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, drew attention to Rule 6 of the Procedure & Conduct of Business Regulations of the GST Council in pursuance of Article 279A (8) of the Constitution, which clearly states: 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,” he said in the letter.
He further urged Sitharaman to bring “finality, through consensus”, on the matters pending with two Groups of Ministers (GOMs) for over a year and to recognise the work being done by the States with regards to enhancement of the collection of GST.
According to Mitra, the outcome of two GOMs, formed on September 24, 2021 and May 24, 2021 still await finality, with only an interim report submitted by one of them.
“May I point out that in the federalist spirit, all States are doing stellar work in increasing GST collections which benefit your Central Government as much as it benefits the States. For example, the policy of zero tolerance for GST return default, by West Bengal government, has led to a sharp rise in return filing and thereby, GST collections,” he said.
Return filing in West Bengal, which was close to 70 per cent in the previous year, has risen to 93 per cent during the months of April-October, 2022. The trend is likely to be similar in several other states as well, he said.
“The States are also conducting scrutiny of returns copiously and have taken anti-evasion drives consistently,” he pointed out.