GST meet: Voting on borrowing options unlikely

NEW DELHI: The Centre is unlikely to allow any voting on the options of borrowing by states at next week’s GST Council meeting. It will say that the issue is outside the panel’s mandate and will cite the attorney general’s opinion to argue its case.
The move could stymie attempts by some opposition-governed states to seek a division on two options suggested by the Centre, which, however, is looking to flip the “federalism” argument on its critics, arguing that states have the right to choose their options. “It is a matter between the state and the expenditure department”, said a senior official. Officials say the Council’s jurisdiction is limited to compensation cess.
In his opinion on compensation cess, attorney general KK Venugopal had said that in line with the provisions of Article 279A(4)(h) of the Constitution, the GST Council can recommend to the Centre to borrow money to meet the shortfall in the compensation kitty. But under Article 293(3), the final call has to be taken by the Centre, he had added.
At Monday’s GST Council meeting FM Nirmala Sitharaman has suggested that the council meet again to discuss the issue of borrowing. But while there would be a deliberations, it will not see a vote even though 21 states have indicated they favour option one. “How the borrowings happen and what are the options are something that the states have to decide in consultation with the expenditure department,” said an officer.

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