West Bengal assembly clears Goods and Services bill

West Bengal assembly clears Goods and Services bill
West Bengal assembly clears Goods and Services bill

Kolkata: The West Bengal Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, was passed by the state assembly here on Monday, with the legislation replacing the ordinance promulgated earlier by the Mamata Banerjee government on the new tax system.

Criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for implementing the new indirect tax regime "without proper infrastructure", the Chief Minister said the state was "forced" to bring in the ordinance.

"We were forced to bring the ordinance for implementing GST in the state. Had we not done so the treasury transactions would not have been possible," Banerjee said while participating in the discussion and added that the common people were facing hardship due to the GST rollout.

Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who moved the WBGST bill, said the state has the compulsion to pass it but would fight for the common people in the subsequent meetings of the GST council.

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"I have not only protested but walked out once from the meeting. About 4,000 crore transactions would be uploaded in the system and GSTN (GST Network) was supposed to take care of the process."

"When I asked the GSTN authorities about the testing of the system, they said about 200 companies from each state had been taken for the test. Moreover, 30 per cent of that (transactions) had failed. It proved the system was not ready," he said.

He said the state government had urged the Centre to defer the roll-out of GST so that "people, technology and the system" get time for the new tax system.

The Left Front members, who took part in the deliberations, opposed the bill. The legislation was passed by voice vote.

CPI-M legislator Sujan Chakraborty termed the discussion "meaningless" and criticised the state government for the timing of the discussion.

"The discussion on GST should have taken place before the roll-out of the new tax system. It is meaningless now. It should have been done when the other states ratified it in their respective assemblies," he said.

Criticising the central government, Chakraborty said keeping the GST out of "parliamentary scrutiny" was not a wise move and after the implementation of the indirect tax, the importance of the state budget would be lost.