‘Will messenger of God please answer?’: Chidambaram’s swipe at Centre


New Delhi: Taking a jibe at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her “act of God” remark, former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday sarcastically called her “the messenger of God” and asked how should the “mismanagement of the economy before the pandemic” be described.

“If the pandemic is an ‘Act of God’, how do we describe the mismanagement of the economy during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 BEFORE the pandemic struck India? Will the Finance Minister as the Messenger of God please answer?” Chidambaram tweeted.

His response comes a day after Sitharaman referred to COVID-19 pandemic as an “act of God” and said there could be contraction of the economy.

“This year we are facing an extraordinary situation. We are facing an act of God where we may even see a contraction of the economy,” she had said.

The Congress leader further asserted that the two options given by the Modi government to the states to bridge the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation gap are “unacceptable”.

“The two options given by the Modi government to the States to bridge the GST Compensation gap are unacceptable,” he said, adding that the financial burden falls entirely on the states under both options. “Under the first option, the states are asked to borrow by pledging their future receivables under-compensation cess. The financial burden falls entirely on the states. Under the second option, states are asked to borrow from the RBI window. It is more market borrowing, only by a different name. Again, the entire financial burden falls on the states,” the Rajya Sabha MP tweet.

He also said that the Centre is absolving itself of any financial responsibility which is a “gross betrayal” as well as a direct violation of the law.

On Thursday, Finance Miniter Nirmala Sitharaman chaired the 41st Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting.

The Centre has given two options for compensating states on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to bridge revenue shortfall as the economy faces a prospect of contraction in current fiscal year due to COVID-19 crisis.

The first option provides a special window to states in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to provide 97,000 crore at a reasonable rate of interest. This money can then be repaid after five years from the collection of cess.

The second option is that the entire GST compensation gap of 2.35 lakh of this year can be met by states in consultation with the RBI.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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