New Delhi [India], May 9 (ANI): Addressing the points raised by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in response to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra on Saturday said it is "unsurprising" that Sitharaman gave a "petulant rebuttal" to the "constructive feedback" by Banerjee.
In a series of tweets, Moitra demanded CGST and SGST on COVID-19 related goods should also be waived along with import duties.
"Unsurprising that Nirmala Sitharaman finds time to give a 15-point petulant rebuttal to what is essentially constructive feedback by Mamata Banerjee. Addressing every point raised by you. Let's get to work," she tweeted.
Moitra asked the Finance Minister to include COVID-19 vaccines in the list of items for COVID relief granted exemption from Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) for imports.
TMC leader asked Sitharaman why does everything have to go through Red Cross India, and why only IGST exempted on COVID related items.
"Why can't citizens and hospitals buy even domestic goods without GST? Duties have been waived. But our people still pay CGST and SGST on these goods. These should be waived," she said.
Moitra said the common man has a huge GST burden at this difficult time, as citizens are paying CGST and SGST on the final product.
On Finance Minister's tweet saying, "The exemption applies to all above-mentioned goods when imported free of cost for free distribution in the country by any entity, state government, relief agency or autonomous body on the basis of a certificate issued by a state government", Moitra said, "It is not a question of "free of cost". While many avail free services...many pay from their pockets as well. We need to help them as well."
TMC leader said if the government can provide full exemption on COVID-related items, mentioned by Banerjee, from basic customs duty and health cess to their commercial imports, then, "why not completely remove GST on the whole chain. Let people / clinics / hospitals get it cheaper."
She said there is no GST on imported items but the government want to charge tax on domestic items and added, "We need to stop this during the pandemic. We cannot profit from citizens' pain."
Moitra said she agrees with Finance Minister that on paper 41 per cent of the CGST revenue is devolved to states, " even though Centre doesn't have a good track record on giving states its dues."
"But as you can see - the suggestion was not made where only GoI has to shoulder the pain. Our state will bear 70.50 per cent of the cost," she added.
In reply to Sitharaman's claim that if full exemption from GST was given, the domestic producers of those items would be unable to offset taxes paid on their inputs and input services and would pass these on to the end consumers by increasing their price, Moitra said, "If you prefer to give 0% instead of exemption - we can support that also. We need to help everyone in the maximum possible way at this time."
She said that Sitharaman's argument that the Centre paying GST to itself on vaccines is "disappointing" and said, " We need to make this 0 per cent / exempt on vaccines also."
She agreed to the Finance Minister's argument that from the GST collected on vaccines, half is earned by the Centre and the other half by the States and further, 41 per cent of Centre's collections also get devolved to the states and asked that if Centre is willing to go 70.50 per cent of the way - can't the centre manage 29.50 per cent of the burden?
Moitra questioned Sitharaman's claim that a nominal 5 per cent GST is in the interest of the citizens, and said, "lease make the entire COVID vaccine chain customs / GST / tax free. We need to vaccinate everyone ASAP."
She requested the Centre to make the whole chain of vaccine production and import GST free. Alternatively make it 0 per cent if exemption is not an alternative.
TMC MP also asked the Centre to vaccinate everyone immediately.
Earlier today, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exempt COVID-related life-saving drugs and equipment from GST and customs duty to eliminate any supply constraints amid the second wave of coronavirus.
Responding to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking exemption from duties and taxes on some COVID-related items, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the items on the Chief Minister's list were already covered in the exemption given to COVID relief by the government of India. (ANI)