The state Assembly on Tuesday passed the West Bengal Goods and Services Tax (WBGST) Bill, 2017, even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Trinamool’s ideological stance on GST would not change. The state government had issued an ordinance in June, to facilitate treasury operations from July 1 — when the new tax regime was implemented across the country. Criticising the Centre for implementing the tax system without proper infrastructure, Mamata said the state was forced to bring the ordinance on GST, as otherwise the state would not have been able to conduct treasury operations.
“We were forced to bring the ordinance for implementing GST in the state. Had we not done so, treasury transactions would not have been possible. Common people are facing problems, and since we value democracy, the party will stand behind the masses,” she said in the Assembly.
The chief minister reiterated that her government was against the hasty implementation of GST, and had earlier asked the Centre to defer it by one or two months. Mamata also said taxes on many items have been lowered, after state Finance Minister Amit Mitra raised objections at GST Council meetings.
“Previously, we had supported GST as it was portrayed to be uniform across the nation, but the experience is totally different. The textile sector, medicine shops, small businessmen had been affected by the new tax law,” she said.
Mamata also credited former state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta, also the chairman of the empowered committee of finance ministers on GST then, for preparing the initial draft. However, she questioned his presence in the Parliament session when the new tax regime was formally introduced. Dasgupta had cited personal reasons for being present there, although his party CPM had boycotted it.
The chief minister said Dasgupta had endorsed it by his presence, according to PTI. Meanwhile, Mitra said the beta test of GSTN software was not done on a large sample, and that nearly 30 per cent from the chosen sample had failed the test.