West Bengal finance minister and member of the Trinamool Congress Amit Mitra will take over as the new chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST) following the resignation of Kerala finance minister KM Mani.
Mitra, an economist who was earlier secretary general of Ficci, has been given this new charge barely two months before the state goes into polls.
The head of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers has always been from an opposition ruled state. CPI-M’s Asim Dasgupta held the post when UPA was in power.
Sushil Modi from Bihar succeed him during the UPA regime.
In July 2013, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather was appointed chairman after Modi quit. Mani succeeded him in March last year.
Mitra was elected in a meeting of state finance ministers that was attended by finance minister Arun Jaitley. He would have to garner consensus and frame rules to roll out the much awaited GST, which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha. The government is trying to garner support from all political parties to pass the critical bill.
The bill, once implemented, will subsume all indirect taxes and create one national market and is expected to further boost economic growth by about 1.5 percentage points. With the uncertainty in the global economy which could have its impact on domestic growth as well, it would be critical for the government to get the GST passed.
The GST Bill was introduced in the Upper House in the monsoon session but due to stiff opposition primarily from the Congress, it could not passed. Earlier, the government had set a deadline of April 1, 2016, for the roll out of the GST.
“We are hopeful that GST will be getting support from all the states present here, all parties on GST,” Sinha told reporters here.
(With agency inputs)