West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Monday said that the state needs to be given an additional compensation (Goods and Services Tax compensation) of Rs 4,911 crores, adding that he had written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this regard but received no response so far.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Mitra said, “Additional compensation (Goods and Services Tax compensation) of Rs 4,911 crores needs to be given to West Bengal, I had written to the Finance Minister but there is no response till now.”
On April 5, West Bengal Finance Minister on Monday wrote to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman urging to release the entire sum of Revenue Deficit Grant provided by the 15th Finance Commission to the state of Rs 5,031 crores in three installments.
Mitra had said the states will continue to face financial stress in a situation where revenue receipts are drying up, while the expenditure to tackle the COVID 19 crisis.
“In order to tide over this critical situation, we had made a request for advance release of the Revenue Deficit Grant provided by the 15th Finance Commission, where we urged you to release the full amount of the grant during the months of April, May, and June 2020,” Mitra said in the letter.
He had said in the case of West Bengal, this release will amount to Rs 5,013 crores in three installments of Rs 1,671 crores, for each of the three months of April, May, and June, respectively.
“But we are dismayed that the Centre has released only an amount of Rs 417 crores for the month of April, in a routine manner without taking into cognizance the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” he added.
He had also highlighted the proposal sent by the Chief Minister to the Prime Minister of raising the FRBM limit from 3 percent to 5 percent for this fiscal year, 2020-21.
Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Finance Ministry, Anurag Thakur, has dismissed the remarks of West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who claimed that he was not allowed to speak at the end of the GST Council meeting held here on Saturday.
Referring to Mitra’s letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this regard, Thakur in a series of tweets on Saturday said that in his experience as MoS in the last two years, he had not seen Sitharaman cut off anyone during the GST Council meeting. “She has patiently given each and every speaker as much time as they needed, even if it meant discussions went on for long hours,” he said.
This comes after Mitra claimed that he repeatedly tried to voice objections after Sitharaman announced the GST Council’s decision, but his “voice was muzzled as the Secretary brought the meeting to a close and the virtual link was cut off”.
The MoS said Mitra did not have a stable video conferencing connection throughout the meeting, adding that the Revenue Secretary informed Mitra that his line was breaking and he was not audible. “Further, during the speech made by the Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister, nobody heard Mitra speak up nor did he ask to have his opinion heard. Other members can attest to this,” he said.
Thakur clarified that at the end of the discussion, Sitharaman asked the Council whether anyone would like to speak and add their comments but Mitra remained silent.
“Mitra again remained silent and did not speak up. The Finance Minister has never stifled dissent in the GST Council. It is unbecoming of a senior member of the Council to suggest that this has happened. The GST Council embodies the collective spirit of all states towards debate in a healthy manner; it has been and shall continue,” he concluded.
On Saturday, Sitharaman said that recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up to look into tax relief on Covid-19 medical supplies have been accepted by the GST Council.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate has been reduced from 12 percent earlier to 5 percent now on Covid testing kits, medical grade oxygen, and ventilators.
For ambulances, the GST rate has been reduced from 28 percent to 12 percent, and for hand sanitsers from 18 percent to 5 percent. These rates will be valid till September 30. (ANI)