Empowered panel of state finance ministers has lost relevance: Sushil Modi

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018

Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and a member of the GST Council, at the Bharat Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata on Friday. - Debasish Bhaduri

Digging the pitch for a show-down with the Trinamool Congress, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, today claimed that the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers has outlived its purpose and lost all relevance with the formation of the GST Council. Modi was himself a previous Chairman of the Committee, which is now headed by West Bengal Finance Minister, Amit Mitra.

The BJP leader’s dig comes a day after Amit Mitra – as chairman of the empowered committee – called for a meeting of all state finance ministers to discuss issues relating to revenue resources outside GST, scope of taxation (apart from GST) and on other matters. The meeting is scheduled on December 14 in New Delhi.

“I have written to Amit Mitra and also called him up. I feel the meeting should be postponed as the committee does not have any mandate post-implementation of GST,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a programme organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce. The Bihar deputy CM has shot off a letter to Mitra and other finance ministers raising objections to the proposed meeting.

According to Modi, the Committee was set up specifically for implementation of VAT and then extended to chart out a roadmap for GST roll-out. Post the roll-out, all finance ministers are members of the GST and hence this Empowered Committee has lost its relevance.

“It (the committee) cannot take up any mandate suo motu. The mandate has to be given by the Finance Minister first,” Modi said.

According to him, if there is an issue that has to be taken up by the finance minister of a state; then it has to be in his personal capacity. “Of course, a finance minister can call a meeting of his counterparts from other states, but not the chairman of a committee that has outlived its purpose,” he added.

To specific questions, Modi was quick to clarify that he was not calling for dissolving the committee; or he saw political overtures in Mitra’s move. Mitra, however, remained unavailable for comments. He did not respond to SMSes sent to him.

Published on December 08, 2017

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