CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee on Friday said her government was in “favour” of the GST Bill, provided that the Centre accorded priority to the four principles that her finance minister had raised in the GST Council meeting earlier. At the same time, Mamata also urged the Centre to restructure the state’s debt to help it come out of the debt burden.
“When it comes to GST, our party’s stand is very clear. We are positive and there are four principles that needs to be looked into. We are in favour of GST provided these four principles are accepted. The federal structure cannot be compromised at any cost,” Mamata said after the Budget Session in the Assembly on Friday.
During his Budget speech, Finance Minister Amit Mitra mentioned the four principles that he had spoken about in the GST Council meeting. “First, common people should benefit under GST. Second, smaller businesses should benefit. Third, in case of revenue loss to the state under GST, the central government should give adequate compensation to the state. Fourth, the fiscal autonomy of the state as enshrined in the Indian federation should not be diluted in any way,” Mitra said.
The CM, meanwhile, once again blamed the debt burden left by the erstwhile Left Front government for the various economic problems faced by her government. Urging the Centre to rethink the matter and device ways to bring West Bengal out of the “precarious condition”, she said: “Due to the debt procured by the previous Left Front government, we had to pay Rs 40,000 crore as principal repayment and interest in 2016-17 financial year. In 2017-18, this would increase to Rs 47,000 crore. The Centre must do something about it.”
“Other states like Kerala, Punjab and Maharashtra are also in debt. Keeping political differences aside, the Centre should restructure our debt as well as for the other states,” she added.
Mamata, however, maintained that the state was not in a debt trap and needed the Centre’s help after 34 years of misrule.