Maharashtra objects to GST Council meeting in Lucknow
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday raised objections and asked why the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting was being held in Lucknow instead of online. He said his request to attend the meeting online is yet to be accepted. Pawar, who handles the finance portfolio in Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, also indicated that Maharashtra will oppose any attempt to encroach on the state’s power while adding more provisions to GST. He was speaking in the context of the speculations over inclusion of petrol and diesel in GST.
The GST Council is meeting in Lucknow on Friday and is likely to discuss bringing petrol, diesel and other petroleum products under its ambit. If the proposal is accepted, it will lead to a drastic reduction in central and state levies on petrol and diesel, and bring down consumer prices of automobile fuels substantially. The matter will be brought before the council for discussion as per the direction of the Kerala high court that had, in June, issued directions to decide on including petrol and diesel under the ambit of GST, as per reports.
“There are reports that petrol and diesel are likely to be brought under GST and only one tax is levied, but we have yet to be officially informed about it (by the GST Council). We have formed our strategy in case any such proposal is coming for discussion. I am of the view that the Centre should do its work and the powers of the states should not be reduced. Stamp duty and excise are revenue sources for the state but maximum revenue comes from GST, thus we want the status quo to be maintained,” Pawar said.
“If they want to discuss bringing petrol and diesel under GST ambit then we all will express our opinions. We will take a clear stand if any attempt is made to reduce the state’s power,” he added.
“I have also submitted our opinion in writing which was sought by the GST Council, which I will not be able to disclose, but our opinion is clear that the states should not be left to face (financial) losses. The commitment given on the floor of the House (Parliament) while implementing GST should be implemented in letter and spirit,” the minister said.
He further said that they have also expressed their stand before Niti Aayog officials who visited Mumbai and had a meeting with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and senior ministers including Pawar recently.
Objecting to the meeting at Lucknow, Pawar said, “We have demanded that the meeting be held in Delhi but they refused to budge. Later, we demanded permission to attend it online, which we have been doing owing to Covid-19 pandemic. The request was made in the backdrop of Covid-19 and new rules for flights, but they have to give any permission.”
The state finance minister said he was hoping to get permission to attend it online as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took online meetings of the chief ministers. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, too, has held many online meetings apart from online meetings of GST Council held during Covid lockdown.