New Delhi, August 26: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said “refusal” by the Centre to pay GST compensation to the states is nothing short of a betrayal of the trust of the people of India.
She was addressing a meeting of chief ministers of states ruled by non-NDA parties, which was convened by her ahead of the crucial GST Council meeting on Thursday and the Monsoon session of Parliament that is likely to start from September 14.
Gandhi said the issue of GST compensation being paid to states on time according to laws passed by Parliament is crucial but this is not happening.
She said dues have accumulated and the finances of all states have been affected badly, while the central government continues to profiteer from “unilateral” cesses which are non-shareable with states and corner this revenue.
The Congress chief said the meeting was convened to help build a coordinated approach among like-minded parties on some important and pressing issues that impinge on the Centre-state relations.
“This refusal to compensate the states is nothing short of a betrayal by the Modi government and a betrayal of trust of the people of India,” she said at the meeting.
Gandhi noted that the GST was enacted as an example of “cooperative federalism” and the GST regime came into existence because the states agreed to forego their constitutional powers of taxation in the larger national interest and on the solemn promise of compulsory GST compensation for a period of five years.
She also said that some announcements by the government like the National Education Policy should worry all of them.
“This is a setback for progressive, secular and scientific values and reveals insensitivity to what the states have been saying. Problems of students and examinations are being dealt with very uncaringly,” she said.
Gandhi observed that ordinances are being issued by the Centre without consulting states on agricultural marketing and this will destroy the MSP regime and adversely impact the PDS.
“There has been a nationwide outcry against the Draft EIA Notification 2020 which is deeply anti-democratic. Laws meant to protect the environment, livelihoods and public health are being weakened,” she said, noting that the auction of coal mines has also been objected to by some chief ministers.
Public sector assets created over decades are being sold off, the Congress leader said, adding that some state governments have expressed their strong opposition to this.
She also observed that six airports have already been given to private hands and the Railways which is the life-line of the country is also being privatised by the BJP-led central government.
Gandhi called for more such meetings of like-minded parties in the larger interest of the country and the public’s good.
She also urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to talk to some of her counterparts in the larger interest of the public. (PTI)