West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra feels it is difficult for to accept the goods and service tax (GST) in its present form, as he expressing “serious doubt” over preparedness of the network.
Mitra disagreed with industries such as leather, regional cinema and books being put in the 28% tax bracket, saying these thrived in Bengal and that the Mamata Banerjee government would fight against the decision. “We have been fighting for many things,” he said.
“After the GST Council was formed, I became a single voice since all other voices are inclined to one side. We fought to get the foodgrain exempted. We fought to get daily consumables exempted under GST.
Moreover, we fought a long battle to get 90% of the industries with a turnover of `1.5 crore or below not to come under dual control. Though we demanded that all such industries and business be out of dual control, the Centre agreed on 90%,” said Mitra, who was chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers on GST.
State parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee concurred, saying the Trinamool Congress would resist any move that attacks people’s right. “Till the Centre announces pro-people schemes under the GST, our fight will continue. They are trying to impose tax on books. What they are trying to do by this? Are they trying to put swords in children’s hands in place of books?
The Centre is trying to demolish every right of the states. This cannot be tolerated.” Mitra said he had written to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, requesting him to defer rollout, adding, “We have serious doubts about industries’ preparedness and GSTN as well. According to some studies, service providers are yet to test the network.”
Mitra is expected to flag these issues when he joins the GST Council meeting on June 3. “I could not attend the previous meeting in Kashmir due to health issues. But we wrote and gave recommendations on 17 goods and 15 services. I also spoke to the (Union) finance minister,” he said. The Bengal Assembly is yet to ratify the new tax regime.