New Delhi, August 27: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday chaired the 41st Goods and Services Tax Council Meeting. During the meeting, the council estimated the compensation gap at around Rs 2.35 lakh crore in GST collections due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing the press conference, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey stated that the total shortfall in collection of GST is estimated at Rs 2.35 lakh crore, out of which Rs 97,000 crore is on account of GST shortfall while the rest is due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Following this, the Union Finance Ministry gave the states seven days time to get back on filling the compensation gap of Rs 2.35 lakh crore and hinted brief GST Council meeting soon. The Union Ministry also gave two options for states to fill the compensation gap.

The first includes a special window which can be provided to the states, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, at a reasonable interest rate for the borrowing of Rs 97,000 crore. The amount can be repaid after five years (of GST implementation) ending 2022 from cess collection. While the second option is to borrow the entire Rs 2.35 lakh crore shortfall under the special window.

Apart from this, the Union Ministry stated that it will provide a further relaxation of 0.5 per cent in states' borrowing limit under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBM Act, 2003). With this, states can choose to borrow more, beyond the expected compensation itself, since that is the injury caused by COVID-19.

Among other details, Union FM Revenue Secretary said that there was hardly any GST Collection in April and May. Adding more, he said, "Total GST compensation during April-July 2020 to be paid is Rs 1.5 lakh crores." The Union Ministry informed that Centre released more than Rs 1.65 lakh crore as GST compensation to states for FY 2019-20, including Rs 13,806 crore for March.