Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said that Centre's refusal to clear Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation to States is nothing short of betrayal on the part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government. Her remarks came during a meeting, held via video conferencing, with Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states and their counterparts of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Jharkhand on the issues related to GST dues of states, Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) (UG) exams.
"There are a number of issues related to Centre-State relations and since Parliament is expected to meet in less than 3 weeks. I thought we should have an interaction so that we can have a coordinated approach. GST compensation seems to be a big issue. GST compensation being paid to States on time according to laws passed by Parliament is crucial. But it is not happening. Dues have accumulated and finances of all the States are badly affected," she said.
"In the meeting of the Standing Committee of Finance on August 11, 2020, the Finance Secretary clearly stated that the Central government is not in a position to pay their mandatory compensation of 14 per cent for the current year. This refusal to compensate the State is nothing short of betrayal on the part of the Narendra Modi government, betrayal of State governments and people of India," she said.
Stating that GST was enacted as an example of cooperative federalism, the Congress interim chief said that the GST regime came into existence because States agreed to forgo their constitutional powers of taxation in the larger national interest on the sole promise of compulsory GST compensation for a period of five years.
She alleged that the Central government continues to profiteer from unilateral cesses which are not shared with the States.
She said that ordinances have been issued without consulting the States on agricultural marketing and called Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2020 as "anti-democratic".
"There has been a national outcry against draft EIA notification 2020 which is deeply anti-democratic," Gandhi said.
She said that public sector assets created over decades are being sold out and 6 airports have been given into private hands and Railway is also being privatised.
Under the law that governs goods and services tax or GST, states have been guaranteed payment for loss of revenue in the first five years since the GST came into force on July 1, 2017. This means states have been promised compensation for any revenue shortfall till 2022 - if they fell below 14 per cent annual growth since July 2017.
(WIth ANI inputs)