India

No One Muzzled Bengal Minister's Voice At GST Meet: BJP's Anurag Thakur

No One Muzzled Bengal Minister's Voice At GST Meet: BJP's Anurag Thakur

Nirmala Sitharaman has never stifled dissent in the GST Council, Anurag Thakur said (File)

New Delhi:

Minister of State (MoS) 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 in Delhi on Saturday.

Referring to Amit Mitra's letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this regard, Anurag Thakur in a series of tweets on Saturday said that in his experience as MoS in the last two years, he had not seen Ms 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 that discussions went on for long hours," he said.

This comes after Amit Mitra claimed that he repeatedly tried to voice objections after Nirmala 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".

Anurag Thakur said Amit Mitra did not have a stable video conferencing connection throughout the meeting, adding that the Revenue Secretary informed Mr Mitra that his line was breaking and he was not audible. "Further, during the speech made by the Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister, nobody heard Amit Mitra speak up nor did he ask to have his opinion heard. Other members can attest to this," he said.

Anurag Thakur clarified that at the end of the discussion Ms Sitharaman asked the Council whether anyone would like to speak and add their comments but the Bengal minister remained silent.

"Amit 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, Ms 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 five 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 five per cent. These rates will be valid till September 30.