Minister of State in the Finance Ministry, Anurag Thakur, has dismissed the remarks of West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who claimed that he was not allowed to speak at the end of the GST Council meeting held here on Saturday.
Referring to Mitra's letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this regard, Thakur in a series of tweets on Saturday said that in his experience as MoS in the last two years, he had not seen Sitharaman cut off anyone during the GST Council meeting. "She has patiently given each and every speaker as much time as they needed, even if it meant discussions went on for long hours," he said.
This comes after Mitra claimed that he repeatedly tried to voice objections after Sitharaman announced the GST Council's decision, but his "voice was muzzled as the Secretary brought the meeting to a close and the virtual link was cut off".
The MoS said Mitra did not have a stable video conferencing connection throughout the meeting, adding that the Revenue Secretary informed Mitra that his line was breaking and he was not audible. "Further, during the speech made by the Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister, nobody heard Mitra speak up nor did he ask to have his opinion heard. Other members can attest to this," he said.
Thakur clarified that at the end of the discussion, Sitharaman asked the Council whether anyone would like to speak and add their comments but Mitra remained silent.
"Mitra again remained silent and did not speak up. The Finance Minister has never stifled dissent in the GST Council. It is unbecoming of a senior member of the Council to suggest that this has happened. The GST Council embodies the collective spirit of all states towards debate in a healthy manner; it has been and shall continue," he concluded.
On Saturday, Sitharaman said that recommendations of Group of Ministers (GoM) set up to look into tax relief on Covid-19 medical supplies have been accepted by the GST Council.The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate has been reduced from 12 per cent earlier to 5 per cent now on Covid testing kits, medical grade oxygen and ventilators.For ambulances, the GST rate has been reduced from 28 per cent to 12 per cent and for hand sanitsers from 18 per cent to 5 per cent. These rates will be valid till September 30. (ANI)