Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the Goods and Services Tax Council would soon set up a seven-member group of ministers to discuss if a national cess can help flood-ravaged Kerala rebuild its infrastructure. “This seven-member committee will have members of North East, hill and coastal states,” said Jaitley. “Committee members will be announced soon.”
The state government has said it needs Rs 30,000 crore to rebuild – Rs 20,000 crore for capital expenditure and Rs 10,000 crore for revenue expenditure. The Rs 20,000 crore includes investment for reconstruction of roads, canals and protecting sea walls. At least 483 people died in the state in rain-related incidents this monsoon.
Last week, Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said the Centre would tweak rules to allow Kerala to borrow beyond the mandated limit. The state finance minister met Jaitley on September 20.
In August, the state proposed to raise Rs 10,500 crore by requesting the Centre to increase the borrowing limit from 3% to 4.5% of the gross state domestic product.
The Centre had said it would not accept offers from foreign governments to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Kerala floods after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the United Arab Emirates had offered Rs 700-crore assistance.
Jaitley on Friday said the revenue position was discussed in detail. “It had been decided earlier that GST council secretary will visit revenue deficit states and analyse it,” the finance minister added. “It was found that there is no revenue shortfall in consuming North East states.”