Covid “Act Of God”, We May See Economy Contract: Nirmala Sitharaman

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt goods and services (GST) collection and the shortfall is ₹ 2.35 lakh crore for fiscal 2021, the government said on Thursday. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, after a meeting of the decision-making body for fixing GST policies, said the coronavirus pandemic was “an act of God” and an unforeseen factor that affected GST collections. “…This year we are facing an extraordinary situation. We are facing an act of God where we may even see a contraction,” she said.

The centre has released over ₹ 1.65 lakh crore as GST compensation to states for fiscal 2020, including ₹ 13,806 crore for March, while cess collected for GST compensation was only ₹ 95,444 crore, Ms Sitharaman said.

The meeting of the GST Council on Thursday was held amid severe pressure from states that have been seeking compensation for revenue shortfall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The centre is hard-pressed on paying GST dues to states that have not earned much this year due to months of lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis. Punjab, for example, has said it may see a revenue deficit of ₹ 25,000 crore this year.

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