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Several states protest move to bring GST network within money laundering law’s ambit

 Several opposition party-ruled states, namely Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, West Bengal and Delhi are learnt to have protested against the provision of bringing the GST network (GSTN) within the ambit of the Provision of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), during the meeting of the GST council, which began earlier on Tuesday. 

Delhi minister Atishi, who holds the Finance portfolio, told reporters outside Vigyan Bhavan, where the GST council is currently meeting under Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, that finance ministers from many states opposed the Centre’s decision to bring GSTN under PMLA provisions, as it will lead to unnecessary harassment of small and medium businesspersons in the hands of Enforcement Directorate (ED). 

Even Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema told reporters during a break in the proceedings, that bringing GST under PMLA’s ambit will be a huge threat to small traders and may even lead to tax terrorism. 

“On July 7, a notification was issued which brought the GSTN under the PMLA. This means that those businessmen, who due to some difficulties, are unable to file GST, can be prosecuted by the ED under PMLA,” Atishi told reporters. 

She said that the issue was also raised by the finance ministers of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan during the meeting. 

Atishi said that all these finance ministers, including from Delhi and Punjab (both ruled by AAP) sought a discussion on this issue but Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was not ready for it. 

“We have seen how ED is used to harass and arrest people. We opposed this and demanded a discussion (in the meeting). But the Centre and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman were not ready for a discussion on the matter,” Atishi told reporters. 

She said that all the above-mentioned ministers demanded that even if the proceedings of the meeting get delayed, the issue should be discussed. 

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