In an interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire the West Bengal Finance Minister sharply and unreservedly criticised the Central government’s options for resolving the GST compensation issue. He said if the two options tabled by the government at the fag end of the last five hour GST Council meeting, without any opportunity for discussion, are now forced through with a majority vote at the next GST Council meeting “it will be a historic mistake for India and for GST”. He said this “in effect would challenge the very foundation of GST”. Going one step further, he said the GST Council will become a divided house and “the federalist spirit will breakdown”. He also added that this will be “a dangerous precedent” which could then affect other aspects of the relationship between the Centre and the states.
Speaking specifically about the Centre’s decision to split the GST compensation into two separate categories, revenue loss as a result of GST implementation and revenue loss as a result of an act of God, Dr. Mitra said that this distinction breaches both the spirit and the letter of the GST Compensation Act. “Whether we will go to Court or not is a strategy I can’t reveal”, he added, clearly suggesting this is an option the West Bengal government is keeping open.
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