CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee on Friday asserted that her government would not support the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in its present form and said the Centre will have to rectify it. The chief minister said that her government would write to the Union Finance Minister in this regard. “State Finance Minister Amit Mitra is very annoyed. Our state Chief Secretary will also discuss in details. We have decided to send a strong letter to Union Finance Minister. We will not support the GST Bill in its present form. The unorganised sector and poor people will face a lot of problems. They will be in acute crisis. The Centre will have to rectify it,” Mamata said during an administrative review meeting at Pailan in South-24 Parganas.
The chief minister also accused the Centre of taking unilateral decisions. “The Centre is not listening to us. They are taking unilateral decisions. We know that the unorganised sector and the small-scale industry here will face a lot of problems. The film and the book industry will also be in trouble if it is implemented. We have to continue our fight to bring down the tax rates on certain products. Unless the rates are reduced, they will adversely impact the state’s economy and employment,” she added.
State Finance Minister Amit Mitra has been opposing the GST rates on certain products, which were likely to have a negative impact on the state’s economy and employment. The state government has also sought reduction in the proposed rates for a number of products. While the Centre has decided to roll out the GST from July 1, the state Assembly has not passed the state GST Bill yet. Mamata also said that a financial emergency is prevailing in the country after demonetisation and people still have no freedom to withdraw money as per their will.
Referring to an Income Tax department advertisement in a newspaper warning people against indulging in cash transactions of more than Rs 2 lakh, the chief minister said, “I saw the advertisement of Income Tax department today (Friday), which said you cannot withdraw more than Rs 2 lakh cash. This means financial emergency is still on. Nobody has any freedom. Even if you earn, you can’t do anything. You can’t withdraw money when you really need it,” Mamata said. During the meeting, Mamata also asked tannery owners of other states, who have incurred losses due to the Centre’s recent ban on sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, to come and do business in Bengal.
The chief minister said this when a tannery owner present at the meeting apprised her of the “terrible conditions of tanneries in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu following the Centre’s ban” and the willingness of their owners to come to Bengal. “You invite all of them (owners of tanneries) to Bengal. At least they will be safe here. We will not allow any riot here. If they want, we will give them land. We welcome all of them as we are not accepting the ban,” Mamata said. The chief minister, during the meeting, also asked the police force to be “active and effective” to check crimes and said they should not see the colour of the criminals, as reported by PTI.
“Police have to be active and effective. Crime is crime and criminals are criminals. Police should not see any colour while dealing with criminals,” she said. Mamata said that any attempt to foment communal riot would not be tolerated. “Beat those who try to foment communal trouble”, PTI quoted Mamata as saying in the presence of DGP Surajit Kar Purakayastha. On Bhangar, where people had agitated against setting up of a power project, Mamata said, “Arms and guns were still kept at some houses at Bhangar. We have to seize those arms. We will not allow it. We are keeping a close watch on all the criminals. We are also using civic police to get ground-level intelligence to check incidents of communal violence.”
According to PTI, Purkayastha said that all the police stations have been asked to prepare a list of criminals who had indulged in criminal activities and tried to incite communal violence in some areas. Meanwhile, Mamata asked Jadavpur University authorities to prevent the entry of outsiders in the campus. After receiving a complaint from a Jadavpur University student that he feels insecure at the campus because of the presence of outsiders, Mamata said, “We love Jadavpur University and the institute is our pride. But we have to look at its security aspect too. If outsiders enter the campus then it will be a problem for insiders. Why will you allow outsiders in the campus? The students should have ID cards. This is an internal matter and we do not want to interfere. The vice-chancellor must look at the security aspects of male and female students. The vice-chancellor will take a decision and if needed then we will extend our cooperation without looking at our interest.”
Some students of the university were present at meeting.