Kolkata, Aug 29: The West Bengal assembly, which was to take up ratification of the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill on Monday, has dropped the matter from discussion in a sudden move, with orders to do so reportedly coming from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself.
Mamata and her Finance minister Amit Mitra have been among the biggest votaries of the Goods & Services Tax. Mitra is also the chairman of the group of state ministers on the matter and is credited with having helped the bill make its way through the political thicket.
According to a report in The Economic Times, however, a perceived move by the Centre to bypass states in a crucial matter related to GST has angered Mamata enough for her to put the ratification of the Constitutional Amendment bill on the backburner for now.
West Bengal treasury officials were reported to have moved ahead with connecting the department with the central Public Financial Management System (PFMS) without seeking a nod from the chief minister. Mamata is said to have seen red at this, accusing the Centre of "serious infringement" of the federal structure. Some seven treasury officials are said to have been pulled up over the issue.
There now seem to be divergent views within Trinamool Congress on when the state will ratify the GST bill. While one senior party leader seemed to suggest that "there is no hurry" in the matter, a Cabinet minister indicated that the move to drop the discussion on Monday had no political overtones and was based on the need to resolve issues related to GST arrangements.
The Centre is keen to put in monitoring tools for tracking expenditure and centrally-sponsored schemes and has issued circulars to state governments to integrate their treasury systems with the PFMS immediately.
The West Bengal government reportedly feels there is no need for such integration as it already uses the RBI's e-Kuber portal for treasury management.
Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Delhi assemblies have ratified the GST amendment bill so far. The key states to watch continue to be Uttar Pradesh, which too has protested against GST-related arrangements, and Tamil Nadu, where the Jayalalithaa government continues to oppose GST.