After Tamil Nadu called for adherence to the norm of the quarterly meeting of the GST Council, West Bengal also joined the chorus to demand that the Council meet at least once in every quarter as per the norm.
The Council last met in June 2022. “May I draw your kind attention to Rule 6 of the Procedure & Conduct of Business Regulations of the GST Council in pursuance of Article 279A (8) of the Constitution? Rule 6 clearly states: The Council shall meet at least once in every quarter of the financial year,” Amit Mitra, principal chief advisor to the West Bengal chief minister, wrote to the union finance minister.
“Yet, in utter violation of this solemn provision, you have not called a single meeting of the Council (physical or virtual) over the last four and a half months. Not even an intimation of any exigency was communicated to the Minister of State, Finance, of West Bengal or any other Member of the GST Council.”
In a similar vein of disregard, the outcome of two Groups of Ministers (GOM), formed on September 24 and May 24, 2021 still await finality, with only an interim report submitted by one of them, he said.
“May I also urge you to bring finality, through consensus, on the serious matters pending with two GoMs for over a year,” Mitra said.
Officials attribute the delay in the GST Council meeting to GoMs on online gaming and another on GST tribunals, whose reports were awaited.
Earlier this month, Tamil Nadu finance minister P Thiagarajan had expressed concerns over the way the Council is functioning. “Are we dedicating the right amount of resources, human and technology, and analytics? I have sincere concerns about all this. Look at how often the council meets, and how committees deliver reports.. I must say there is still a lot of room for improvement relative at least to the professional career I came from.
Mitra said the policy of ‘zero tolerance for GST return defaults, by the West Bengal government, has led to a sharp rise in return filing and thereby, GST collections.
The states are also conducting scrutiny of returns copiously and have taken anti-evasion drives consistently, he added.