West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra is chief of empowered panel of state FMs1 min read . Updated: 20 Feb 2016, 01:29 AM IST
The panel will be key in putting together final contours of GST design, spearheading implementation, achieving consensus between states as well as between centre and states
New Delhi: The government has appointed West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra as chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers, minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha said on Friday. The committee represents all states that will play a crucial role in implementing the goods and services tax (GST).
The empowered panel will play a role in putting together the final contours of GST’s design, spearheading its implementation and achieving consensus on some of the differences between states as well as between the centre and the states.
Mitra, belonging to the Trinamool Congress, has been the finance minister of West Bengal since 2011, when his party came to power in the state.
Prior to taking over as the state’s finance minister, Mitra had held the post of secretary general at industry lobby, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
With India moving close to implementation of the game-changing indirect tax reform, Mitra will have the advantage of understanding both Indian companies as well as the government’s points of view.
He will be the second finance minister of West Bengal who will head this body after it was constituted in 2000. Asim Dasgupta, his predecessor from the state, held the chairman’s post for 10 years.
The post fell vacant in November 2015 after the previous incumbent, K.M. Mani, stepped down as Kerala finance minister following corruption allegations.
GST will economically unify the country by dismantling state-level barriers to trade in goods and services. Once the 122nd constitution amendment bill necessary for the implementation of GST is passed by the Rajya Sabha and is ratified by 50% of the state assemblies, three key legislations—the central GST law, the state GST law and the integrated GST law will need to be passed.
The government will miss the 1 April 2016 deadline for rolling out GST but is hopeful of doing so sometime later in the next fiscal year.
However, its implementation will depend on the government’s ability to garner the support of opposition parties, particularly the Congress, for passage of the bill.