Thiruvananthapuram: The Goods and Services Tax, scheduled to be rolled out from July in the country, would benefit Kerala to a great extent with at least 20 per cent increase in tax revenue, state Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac said here today.

"GST, which is a destination based tax, will increase the tax revenue of a consumer state like Kerala and also will make business more transparent. The new tax system would also end corruption to a great extent," he told reporters here.

However, the actual benefit to consumers could be known only after finalisation of tax bracket for goods, he said. Check posts would become irrelevant with GST coming into force, he said, adding that in due course these would be closed.

The minister said that Kerala plans to introduce the GST bill along with the Finance Bill in the coming budget session starting next month. Issac flayed the recent order of Niti Ayog to District Collectors to convene Grama sabhas and submit plan proposals to it for consideration, saying it went against the principles and spirit of decentralisation and was against the federal structure of the country.

"Grama sabhas are part of local self governments," he said and demanded that the order be withdrawn. On demonetisation, Issac said development work was not taking place due to currency crunch. "I also agree with the statement of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the worst is yet to come", Issac added.

He also rejected BJP's charge that there is black money in the cooperative sector in Kerala and said its functions have been badly affected due to the note ban. "The withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per week for primary cooperative societies is still continuing", he pointed out.

On LDF government's plans, he said capital expenditure would go up in Kerala in the coming years and projects worth Rs 20,000 crore was planned in the next five years through Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board. "Already work to a tune of Rs 5,000 crore has been given administrative sanction", he said.

Referring to the health and education sector, he said there would be a marked change in these sectors in the coming years. "We are moving in the right direction," he said. To a question on the recent move by a section of IAS officers to take mass casual leave in protest against the functioning of VACB Director Jacob Thomas, the Finance Minister said "the issues should be sorted out. The action of the IAS officers was improper". 

On Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau officials recent examination of some documents at KIIFB office here, Issac said there was nothing wrong in it. "Each office has its powers and there is nothing wrong in exercising these powers," he said.

However he declined to comment when asked if he felt that VACB was overreaching its powers. Asked if there would be any change in government's liquor policy, the minister said it was for the Excise department to take a call on it.

He said the tourism sector too had been affected due to the policy and there has to be a change in it. As per the liquor policy of the previous Congress led UDF, which is in force now, only five star category hotels are allowed to serve foreign liquor in bars.

PTI