West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra was on Friday appointed the chairman of the goods and services (GST) panel, a move that came three months after the previous head, former Kerala finance minister K M Mani, resigned in November 2015. The move comes just ahead of the Budget session, which starts from Tuesday.
Mitra was elected at the meeting of state finance ministers that was also attended by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
With this, the tradition to have the finance minister of an Opposition-ruled state to be the head of the empowered committee of state finance ministers has been maintained. This tradition was broken when Abdul Rahim Rather was appointed by former finance minister P Chidambaram. Rather belonged to the National Conference, an ally of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre then.
The committee is to deliberate on the GST exemption thresholds and GST Bill.
A panel, headed by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, had suggested a higher GST exemption threshold of Rs 75 lakh annual turnover against Rs 50 lakh recommended by the Centre.
States are divided on the limits, with most including Karnataka seeking a lower exemption limit of Rs 10 lakh annual turnover.
The empowered committee also has to discuss the GST law and business processes for payments, refunds and return filing.
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