Sushil Modi seeks postponement of Dec 14 finance ministers' committee meeting
Kolkata, Dec 8: Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has written a letter to chairman of the empowered committee (EC) of State Finance Ministers Amit Mitra, urging him to postpone the governing body meeting convened on Dec 14.
The meeting, besides considering approval of the annual report and statement of account for 2016-17, proposes to hold a regular meeting to discuss state revenue resources outside the goods and services tax (GST), best practices in respect of resources outside the GST, scope of tax powers of the states which continues to figure in Schedule 7 of list II of the Constitution and issues related to the 15th Finance Commission.
Mitra has written a letter dated Dec 4 for convening the meeting of the governing body of the committee on Dec 14. "In the light of the government resolution constituting EC and the subsequent announcement in the Budget speech of the the then Union finance minister, it is clear that EC does not have a mandate to discuss issues like state revenue positions and best practises in respect of resources outside the GST, the taxing powers of the states or Centrally-sponsored schemes grants and devolution," Modi said in his letter to Mitra.
"The EC has neither been assigned new functions nor a fresh mandate has been given to it. Accordingly, I am to request you to kindly postpone the meeting proposed on Dec 14, 2017," Modi, who is also the finance minister of Bihar, said in his letter to Mitra, who is his West Bengal counterpart.
Modi told PTI told he had telephonic talks with Mitra in this regard. Reaction from Mitra was not available. Modi was speaking at an interactive session organised by Bharat Chamber of Commerce here. "With implementation of VAT/Union Excise duties/Service Tax with GST, EC has completed the task assigned to it. Further, the GST council established under the mandate of the constitution, comprises the finance ministers of the states who were also members of EC," Modi's letter said going into the background of formation of the empowered committee of state finance ministers and its terms of reference.
Though Modi opposed convening of the meeting, he, however, did not call for dismantling of the empowered committee. Mitra was named chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers in 2016 after then Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani had resigned over corruption charges.
The head of the panel has always been from an opposition party-ruled state. Modi headed the committee during UPA II. He served as the deputy chief minister of Bihar and also finance minister in the NDA ministry then too under Nitish Kumar.