West Bengal Finance Minister Dr Amit Mitra on Saturday accused the centre of thrusting on states the transfer to tax important gadgets associated to the Covid pandemic resembling masks, sanitisers, and vaccines. He mentioned voices like his have been “ignored” throughout a GST Council assembly and that his digital hyperlink was even lower off. Union Minister Anurag Thakur later denied the allegations.
GoI led the anti-people transfer & IMPOSED GST on VACCINE, MASK,hand sanitizer, OXYGEN, PPE, oxymeter, Covid check package, Remdesivir, RT PCR machine..Since my voice IGNORED, I’ve recorded my DISSENT by letter. Unprecedented. Sluggish loss of life of the one physique of cooperative federalism.
— Dr Amit Mitra (@DrAmitMitra) June 12, 2021
In a letter he wrote in “nice anguish” to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chairperson of the Items And Providers Tax (GST) Council, Dr Mitra mentioned his voice was “muzzled” which he mentioned was “really unprecedented”.
The Council met on Saturday to debate, amongst different issues, tax aid on gadgets of want within the prevention and remedy of COVID-19.
Whereas it was decided to cut GST on some medicines and hospital gear, Covid vaccines proceed to draw 5 per cent tax. Equally, there was no change in charges of things like RT-PCR machines and uncooked materials for Covid testing kits. Masks, PPEs, and hand sanitisers, too, shall be taxed.
“That is completely an anti-people determination that’s being thrust on us on the GST Council. As representatives of the individuals, we now have no strategy to justify these choices of draconian nature,” Dr Mitra write in his letter to Ms Sitharaman, recording his dissent.
He reminded her that as much as 3,70,000 individuals had died within the nation as a result of pandemic until Could 1.
The West Bengal Finance Minister wrote that he had proposed two alternate options through the assembly: Zero tax on Covid-related gadgets and 0.1 per cent GST on them.
He mentioned his proposals have been just like these made by many different state finance ministers moreover Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP, who dealt with the portfolio in Bihar until just lately.
“I attempted my greatest to repeatedly increase my objection…however sadly, I used to be by no means given the ground and my voice was muzzled, because the Secretary introduced the assembly to an in depth and the digital hyperlink was lower off. Whither GST Council!” he wrote.
Citing Dr Mitra’s letter, Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur later sought to “set the file straight”.
“In my over two years of attending the GST Council, I’ve by no means seen Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ji lower off anybody through the Council discussions. She has patiently given every & each speaker as a lot time as they wanted, even when it meant discussions went on for lengthy hours,” he mentioned in a collection of tweets.
“Throughout discussions in the present day (June 12), it appeared as if the Finance Minister from West Bengal didn’t have a secure VC connection. The Income Secretary repeatedly knowledgeable him his line was breaking, and that he was not correctly audible and to show off his video for higher connectivity,” he mentioned.
On the finish of the dialogue, when FM @nsitharaman ji requested the Council whether or not anybody want to communicate & add their feedback, Dr Mitra ji once more remained silent and didn’t communicate up.
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) June 12, 2021
Mr Thakur mentioned it was unbecoming of Dr Mitra to make such allegations, and asserted that the GST Council shall proceed to “embody the collective spirit of all states in direction of debate in a wholesome method”.