Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK leader MK Stalin wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to remove the Goods and Service Tax (GST) on Covid-19 vaccines and other medicines used to treat the infection which are procured by state governments. He said that this move can be put in place for certain period after consulting with the GST Council since state governments are themselves procuring these things.
Stalin also urged PM Modi for quick disbursal of pending GST compensation, rice subsidy and hiking Tamil Nadu’s borrowing limits from 3% of the State Gross Domestic Product (SGDP) to 4%.
His letter to PM Modi came a day after the Congress party, which fought Tamil Nadu assembly polls along with the DMK, accused the government of seeing an opportunity in crisis by imposing GST on Covid vaccines and medicines. The party claimed that the Centre has collected over ₹6,000 crore from such taxes.
“The government should not miss the last bus and should act now. Have a vaccine policy in which all Indians will be vaccinated in the next six months, then only we can defeat coronavirus,” Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh said.
Meanwhile, West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday wrote to his counterpart at the Centre, Nirmala Sitharaman, urging her to convene a virtual meeting of the GST Council to discuss about the “alarming” shortfall in terms of compensation to states.
“The GST Council was mandated to meet once in every quarter. Unfortunately, that has been violated twice over, by not calling a meeting for two consecutive quarters – not even virtually,” Mitra said in a letter to Sitharaman
“This has undermined a federalist institution, where all states are represented irrespective of political parties, regions or sizes of population, along with the GoI, I fear that not holding meetings regularly may also lead to a trust deficit,” he further said.
Mitra also said a discussion on the shortfall expected in the compensation to states is urgently needed.