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Govt expresses discontent over GST proposals

Govt expresses discontent over GST proposals

Thiruvananthapuram: With the CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state yet to ratify the GST constitutional amendment bill, state Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac Wednesday protested against the procedures adopted for the conduct of the GST council meeting to be held on September 22 and 23.

In a Facebook post, he said Kerala has strong objections to many proposals of the Centre on GST and sought to know if it would try for a consensus and consider different opinions.

He also took exception to the voting procedure for the selection of Vice-chairman of the council.

Attacking the NDA government, Issac said that with most states approving the GST constitutional amendment bill, "BJP has betrayed its true character".

"The agenda note for the meeting to be held on September 22 and 23 was received last evening. The first item was on the procedures of the GST council meeting," he said.

Isaac said seven days prior notice has to be given for the meeting, but in an emergency, two days notice was enough.

However it was not possible to depute anybody to attend the meeting in place of the Finance Minister, he said.

"The Chairman (Union Minister) will decide the sitting position of each minister. The note also stated attendance has to be registered before the meeting", Issac said.

"The State Finance Ministers council has been functioning for the past two decades. There was no system of attendance and no dispute over seats," Isaac said.

He said central government officers failed to note they are dealing with state ministers and not their subordinates.

Similarly, there was no dispute over chairmanship in the State Finance Ministers Empowered Committee for GST.

"But here the Vice-Chairman of the Council is being selected through election," he said.

The minister said the agenda note also gives in detail the procedure to be followed for voting and "there is not a single sentence of consensus in it."

"There will be majority in the Council if BJP ruled states and Union government join together and the message the note gives is that with the majority, they can decide on anything. It is condemnable," Issac said.

Issac also said that this issue would be taken up by the state at the Council meeting.

The state assembly is slated to begin its sitting on September 26 and is likely to take up the GST constitutional amendment bill.

On August 8, Parliament had passed the GST Constitution Bill, to replace different state and local taxes with a single unified value added tax system.

The bill has to be ratified by at least 16 of the 29 state assemblies.

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