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Jaitley for GST Council-like structure for farm, rural development, healthcare

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 20, 2019

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (file photo)   -  THE HINDU

The working of the GST Council is a role model in other areas where federal institutions are needed in India. It displays the maturity of India’s democracy and politics, Jaitley said.

The experience of the GST Council can be replicated in sectors such as agriculture, rural development and healthcare, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.

GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council is the first of its kind where both the Centre and States have pooled their sovereignty in terms of tax policies. 

In his last of the 10-series blog, the Finance Minister said the agricultural sector needs a major support and both Centre and States spend a large part of their budget on this sector. Similarly, the process of developing rural infrastructure and improving the quality of life in villages has now started. A lot more needs to be done in both agriculture and rural development.

“Should the Centre and the States be only competing and not supplementing efforts of each other?” he asked. According to Jaitley should they (Centre and States) not be pooling their resources and ensure that no overlap or duplication takes place and that the interest of the largest number is protected and enhanced?

 

According to Jaitley, the same is equally true for healthcare. Primary Health Centres, hospitals, health schemes for treatment of poor patients, supply of medicines at an affordable cost are all intended by both Central and the State Governments to ensure that affordable healthcare is available to the people. “For those who cannot afford healthcare, it is available at the cost of the Central and some State Governments. Is overlap of expenditure necessary or should it be pooled and spent in an optimum manner?”, he said.

 

Emphasising the principle of ‘Bahujan Hitay Bahujan Sukhay’, Jaitley slammed the Opposition-ruled States in the implementation of two flagship schemes — Aysuhman Bharat and PM Kisan. West Bengal, Delhi, Odisha are amongst the States which have refused to implement Ayushman Bharat where every poor family gets up to ₹5 lakh of hospitalisation support annually. Similarly, he alleged that, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka and West Bengal are non-cooperative in the PM KISAN scheme where small and marginal farmers get ₹6,000 income support annually.

He said the working of the GST Council is a role model in other areas where federal institutions are needed in India. It displays the maturity of India’s democracy and politics. When larger national interest requires, decision makers can rise to the occasion. It negates the popular impression that politicians of different shades of opinions will always be divided on party lines. “It has worked to the benefit of industry, trade, consumers and has become the single most important tax reform in independent India,” he said.

 

Published on March 20, 2019

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