GST council meet: Kerala FM voices discontent over Centre’s agenda

Going by Thomas Isaac’s Facebook post, it remains to be seen whether the GST council would be able to finalize the rules of conduct of business


It is the basic framework of the rules of conduct of business in the council as mentioned in the agenda that has upset Isaac.
It is the basic framework of the rules of conduct of business in the council as mentioned in the agenda that has upset Isaac.

Bengaluru: Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac took to Facebook on Wednesday to raise his pet peeve against the way Union government is organizing the first goods and services tax (GST) council meeting, which will be held in Delhi on Thursday.

It is the basic framework of the rules of conduct of business in the council as mentioned in the agenda that has upset Isaac. Moves such as election to the post of vice-chairman of the council, among other things, have come under criticism from Isaac.

“This agenda gives me an impression that the NDA will take unilateral decisions given that the Central government and the BJP-ruled states together form a majority in the council, there is no mention of arriving at a mutual agreement through broad discussions,” he posted on Facebook.

The GST council is about to meet when state and the central governments are already poles apart on some touchy issues related to the tax legislation, which is hailed as India’s most ambitious tax reforms since Independence.

Mint reported on Wednesday that the council is unlikely to arrive at a consensus on the tax rates under the indirect tax regime or on the issue of sharing administrative powers between the Centre and the states in the first meeting.

Going by Isaac’s post, it remains to be seen whether the council would be able to finalize at least the rules of conduct of business, the main agenda of the meeting.

That the state finance ministers will be informed about the main agenda of each council meetings only within a seven-day notice period, which could be further shortened to only two days in case of urgency, has also not gone down well with Isaac.

“The agenda says a finance minister cannot send anyone else as his replacement from the state, and also that the state officials are barred from attending the council meeting if the minister is not coming. It says the chairman (finance minister) of the council will decide where each minister has to sit and that the ministers have to register their attendance through hajar. The officials of the central government seems to have forgotten that they are talking to state ministers, not to their subordinates,” said Isaac in the Facebook post.

He added that he will raise these issues in the meeting.

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