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'Amending constitution before GST consensus unacceptable'

Amending constitution before GST consensus unacceptable

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam Friday categorically opposed the introduction of a constitution amendment bill on goods and services tax (GST) before evolving a consensus on its various aspects.

In a letter to Modi, the text of which was released to the media here, Panneerselvam said the government's proposal to introduce a constitution amendment bill on GST and then evolve consensus on actual tax rates, tax bands and other issues through the GST Council is unacceptable.

"We would rather suggest that the government of India should permit the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers to try and evolve a broad consensus on the critical issues before the enactment of the constitution amendment bill on GST is taken up," he said.

Panneerselvam reiterated Tamil Nadu's opposition to the idea of the GST Council as a constitutional body as it compromises the autonomy of the states including in fiscal matters.

"In particular, we strongly object to the decision making rule and voting weightage which gives the government of India an effective veto in council and further makes no distinction amongst the states in the weightage," he said.

Urging strongly against hustling through the constitutional amendment bill hastily he said such a move is bound to have serious long-term implications for the fiscal autonomy and revenue position of the states.

According to him the central government must ensure that the states' fears are allayed and a true consensus is achieved before such a far-reaching reform is attempted.

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