Baghel questions absence of Congress minister from GST panel

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Raipur, Jun 1 (PTI) Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday said not including a minister from Congress-ruled states in a panel constituted to examine GST exemptions on a range of COVID-19 materials was against the spirit of cooperative federalism.

The Congress chief minister's reaction came after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, at a meeting on last Saturday, constituted an eight-member panel of ministers to examine GST exemption on essential goods related to COVID-19.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has been appointed the head of the panel.

Its other members are Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, his Maharashtra counterpart Ajit Pawar, Goa transport minister Mauvin Godinho and finance ministers of four states - Kerala (KN Balagopal), Odisha (Niranjan Pujari) Telangana (T Harish Rao) and UP (Suresh Khanna).

The Congress is part of the Shiv Sena-led ruling alliance in Maharashtra but the state's representative in the ministerial panel, Ajit Pawar, belongs to the NCP.

Baghel toldreporters that ministers of Congress-ruled states, who are part of the GST Council, should have been included in the Group of Ministers (GoM) formed to discuss the issue of exempting or slashing GST on COVID-19 essentials like vaccines, drugs, PPE kits and oxygen-related equipment.

Not including any member from Congress-ruled states is unfortunate and against the spirit of cooperative federalism, Baghel added.

The Congress has been continuously demanding exemption of GST on vaccines, medicines and other equipment to effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic at all levels, the chief minister said.

In the meeting of the GST Council last week, the ministers of Congress-ruled states had proposed to keep tax rate on these items at 0.1 per cent, instead of 5 per cent, or giving them total exemption, he said. PTI COR TKP RSY RSY