CM as GoM head delays GST decisions: Tamil Nadu FM P Thiagarajan

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Tamil Nadu finance minister P Thiagarajan on Tuesday questioned the practice of appointing chief ministers or deputy chief ministers as convenors of the ministerial panels of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on important policy matters as they have little time to spare, leading to inherent delays in calling meetings and finalising reports.

Delays in the submission of reports by group of ministers (GoMs) have led to a delay in the September quarter meeting of the Council, which is yet to happen. The minister was also miffed that the Council was not meeting every quarter of late.

“We have this strange convention that has been adopted for which I can find no reference anywhere in the documentation. That if you constitute a GoM the senior most member must be convenor but that is the exact opposite of what you want (quicker policy recommendations).”

Thiagarajan said speaking at the TIOL Congress 2022. 

“How many chief ministers have the time in the scope of their broad responsibilities to convene GoMs for the GST Council? Surely, they have much less time than a deputy CM and a deputy CM has less time than a minister to run GoM meetings… In many cases, we have the lost convenors and it has taken six months for the new convenor to be named.”

The Tamil Nadu minister is a member of two of the GoMs under the GST Council. One on levying GST on casinos, online gaming and horse racing and the other on GST system reforms.   

“The problem is this GoM (systemic reform) doesn’t meet. If it doesn’t meet it is hard for us to do any real work. It doesn’t meet because the convenor hasn’t called a meeting because the convenor has already changed twice,” the minister said. 

After the change of government in Maharashtra, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis replaced former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar as the convenor of GoM in September. 

The GoM on GST on casinos, online gaming, and horse racing is headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

With no unanimity about taxing at the rate of 28% on the full value of the consideration, without making a distinction between games of skill or chance, the GoM led by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma has sought legal opinion on whether the prize money in online gaming and horse racing is covered within “actionable claim” or not, before submitting the additional report. However, so far the report has not been submitted even though the GoM was planning to do so by September 16.

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