Mamata Banerjee govt drops GST ratification bill for now
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, an advocate of the GST bill, wants to wait and watch what other states, especially those not ruled by BJP, are going to do before taking a decision.india Updated: Aug 29, 2016 13:46 IST
The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government has decided to drop the ratification of the crucial Goods and Services tax (GST) that was scheduled for discussion on the floor of the West Bengal assembly on Monday.
Senior state government representatives insisted that the decision is not politically motivated but party sources said it was taken to protest the recent initiatives by the Centre to inspect the state’s financial affairs, including the function of the treasury.
“The state government wants to examine the matters before passing it on the floor of the house. We want to wait a bit. There is no other reason behind the decision,” parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee told Hindustan Times.
State government sources said that Banerjee, who is an advocate of the GST bill, wants to wait and watch what other states, especially the non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states, are going to do before taking a decision.
In a process to make it a law, the bill will have to be ratified by at least 15 of the 29 state assemblies before going for President’s assent. Eight states, including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have ratified it.
Uttar Pradesh has protested GST-related arrangements, and the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu continues to oppose the bill. Kerala too is yet to ratify it.
Government sources said that Banerjee’s decision is a way to show her displeasure with the Narendra Modi-led government.
“Recently, the Centre sent a team of seven mid-level officials, who came to the state secretariat to inspect the state treasury and for integration of the treasury with the Public Finance Management System that made the chief minister furious,” a state government official said.
“She has especially objected to the sending of the inspection team without prior intimation from the state government, which, according to her, is a violation of the federal system of the country,” the official added.
In a hurriedly called press conference last week, Banerjee expressed her anguish over linking of the state treasury with the PFMS and clearly said that the central team was not allowed to enter the state treasury nor they will be allowed in future.
Economists, however, feel that state government’s stance is unnecessary since linking of the state treasury with the PFMS and tracking of expenditure is an integral part of implementing a GST effectively throughout the country.
The GST bill was cleared in the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2015, following which it was sent to a parliamentary committee for review in the Rajya Sabha. The bill was finally cleared on August 3, 2016, in the upper house of Parliament.
The Centre is keen on rolling out the GST by April next year.