West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Wednesday dropped a bombshell, saying that the Goods and Service Tax (GST) would be difficult to implement from April next year. Speaking to NDTV, Mitra, who is on the GST Council, said that demonetisation has made GST a “double whammy” for states. Mitra said he would approach other state finance ministers and ask them to rethink their support to the bill.
He claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement on November 8 has slowed down the economy and states are losing more money sooner than planned. “The government needs to redo its arithmetic,” he said. Under the GST, which will replace all the existing central and state taxes, the Centre will have to compensate states for the revenue deficit accrued over a period of five years. Calling demonetisation a “tectonic” hit, Mitra said “I’m deeply concerned about timing of the GST. People are talking about a recession. A 2 per cent fall in GDP is serious, (so) can GST happen?”
Amendments related to GST are still pending the Parliament. Proceedings in the House have been stalled with the opposition demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence during the debate on demonetisation. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been stringently opposing the move as it has put the common man at the mercy of banks to withdraw or swap cash. She has undertaken protest rallies in Delhi and Lucknow so far. More are planned in Punjab and Bihar.