At a time when the ruling BJP has placed the long-pending GST bill in the Rajya Sabha for rollout, Amit Mitra, chairman of the group of empowered committee of finance ministers, on Wednesday said GST rates should not contribute to inflation, hurting common people.
“We should see that the rates should not contribute to the inflationary pressures. Common people should get benefit from the GST. It should reduce their tax burden,” Mitra, also finance minister of West Bengal, said at a Ficci event.
The empowered committee along with the chief financial advisor Arvind Subramanian and other stakeholders met last month to discuss on the rates. However, the committee could not come to a consensus. Earlier, union finance minister Arun Jaitley after meeting the empowered committee in Kolkata said the committee has to arrive at a decision on the rates, but the July meeting remained inconclusive.
While Mitra has been advocating for non-inflationary rates, the Subramanian panel has proposed rates between 22% and 25%. The Congress has demanded an 18% constitutional cap on GST rates, though the government is firm on the stand that there would be no constitutional cap. Most states have also agreed on this stand, claimed Jaitley.
Although Mitra has not specified any rate, senior Trinamool Congress MP Mukul Roy said the Bill should be passed containing the proposals given by the chairman of the empowered committee. In fact, the Centre is confident about getting Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s support on the Bill, but the party has decided it would only support if the proposals of Mitra are not altered.
“We are supportive of GST. We have even mentioned it in the manifesto of the latest Assembly elections. But if the government tries to deviate from the proposals given by our finance minister we may back out from supporting it,” Roy said.
Mitra’s statement on Wednesday signifies that Trinamool Congress may block the Bill in Rajjya Sabha if it effects price rise.