Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal here on Saturday said they may approach the Supreme Court if the Centre fails to release the GST compensation to the state. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had last week expressed shock over the delay in the release of Rs 4,100 crore to the state.
The compensation for the months of August and September is yet to be paid even as Badal, along with FMs of West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi and Rajasthan, will meet Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the issue next week.
"We will demand either give us the GST compensation or form a dispute resolution mechanism over this issue. Otherwise, the states have the option to approach the Supreme Court for any dispute with the Centre," said Badal while talking to reporters here.
The Punjab minister asserted that the disbursement of the compensation to states by the Centre could not be denied.
"We are not beggars," he asserted.
The Punjab minister said earlier the compensation was paid every month, which was discontinued.
"Later, the disbursement was made after every two months. Now, three months have passed. Our Rs 4,100 is yet to be received from the Centre," said Badal, adding that the delay was caused even after an assurance was given to release the amount.
"Despite promising that the compensation would be released to the state, it is being delayed. Rs 4,100 crore is not a small amount. Around Rs 2,000 crore per month is our salary bill," said Badal.
The Punjab FM said the Centre could go for extra borrowing or print currency but there was a ceiling on borrowing for any state.
Asked about low growth in state's internal resources, Badal blamed the prevailing recession in the country for it.
"It is not Punjab only, tax mobilisation of the government of India is also low. We are matching the national growth. Against other states' four per cent GST collection, Punjab's growth in mobilisation was at 10 per cent," he said.
Badal also blamed the previous SAD-BJP regime for agreeing to subsuming of 23 per cent of revenue coming from taxes on foodgrains for the GST implementation.
The Punjab minister, however, said their priority was to pay salaries to state government employees.
"We will pay salaries tomorrow," he said allaying fears regarding the delay in the disbursement of salaries to state government employees.
On November 20, finance ministers of Punjab, West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi and Rajasthan had appealed to the Centre to release their GST compensation without any delay.
The Punjab Congress on Thursday had lashed out at the BJP-led Union government, accusing it of "deliberately delaying" the release of the amount.
The ruling party in the state also threatened to hold a protest outside Parliament if the Centre did not stop "discrimination" against Punjab.