Home General States force Centre to delete minutes of last GST Council meet

States force Centre to delete minutes of last GST Council meet

by Ila Choudhary
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Udaipur: In a first, Opposition-ruled states today got the Centre to delete from the records three minutes of the last GST Council meeting that provided for tweaking of agreed criteria for division of taxpayers under the Goods and Service Tax regime.

A minister of an Opposition-ruled state said now the Centre by tweaking the minutes is trying to keep the issue open eneded "so that later they can exert pressure through taxmen and CBI and ask other states to also give up their powers".

A minister of an Opposition-ruled state said now the Centre by tweaking the minutes is trying to keep the issue open eneded “so that later they can exert pressure through taxmen and CBI and ask other states to also give up their powers.”

The all-powerful GST Council, headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising representatives of all states, had in its last meeting on January 16 agreed that 90 per cent of tax assessees below Rs 1.5 crore annual turnover will be assessed by states and the remaining 10 per cent by the Centre.

For taxpayers with over Rs 1.5 crore turnover, the split was 50:50 between the Centre and states.

But the minutes of that meeting, which came up for approval at the 10th GST Council meet here today, gave states a leeway to split the assessees in a different ratio in consultation with the Centre.

This was strongly opposed by Opposition-ruled states like Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka which felt the reported ‘minutes of the meeting’ do not reflect the decision taken at the GST Council.

This, along with two other minutes, was dropped in today’s meeting, a minister of an Opposition-ruled state told reporters here.

“The 90:10 division (of assessees with turnover below Rs 1.5 crore) and 50:50 (for assessees with over Rs 1.5 crore turnover) was decided but it was not decided that any one state can sit with the Centre and decide to rework (the division) on its own,” he said, adding that it was not discussed in the last meeting.

The minister further said that BJP-ruled states had at the last meeting stated that they don’t want control over small businesses and the states today said that it shouldn’t be made part of the Council minutes.

The Centre was originally not in favour of a horizontal split of control of assessees under the dual control or cross empowerment but had to give into states’ demand in the last meeting.

The minister said now the Centre by tweaking the minutes is trying to keep the issue open eneded “so that later they can exert pressure through taxmen and CBI and ask other states to also give up their powers”.

“This is a political gimmick to increase Centre’s powers by turning 90:10 into 50:50. What is the role of GST council then if the states individually come and decide,” he added.
TMC-ruled West Bengal, AAP-governed Delhi, Congress-ruled

Karnataka and Left-ruled Kerala were most vocal in their opposition.

“They (these parties) vehemently opposed it,” he said claiming central tax officers were pulled up and told that if they cannot make the minutes of meeting properly they should take help of state officials.

The minister also said the minutes stated that new registrations of assessees would be divided 50-50 between the Centre and states.”It wasn’t discussed in the last meeting,” he added.

Another issue which was contested was on import-export, he said adding the Centre had taken the powers to decide in any dispute.

“If goods and services are imported, it is the customs that decides, but in case of exports, states decide.

So they wanted to take that power and give them to the centre,” he added.

“We have got the three minutes deleted. It is for the first time ever that this has happened,” the minister said.

“The worst part is that since the beginning of GST council, instead of discussing how to reduce the burden of the taxpayers, we have been talking about how to accommodate tax officials.

The minister further said the States pulled up Central tax officials for being biased towards the Centre while drafting the minutes.

“The central officials were told if they cannot draft the minutes of the Council meeting properly, they should take help of state officials,” he said.

PTI

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