Monday, 19 March, 2018

Budget session: Opposition angry as Finance Bill passed without discussion

Lok Sabha protests MPs protesting in the well of the Lok Sabha | PTI
Melinda Barton | 14 March, 2018, 10:46

The bills were passed by voice vote. Agreeing with the view, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan took up the bills at noon instead of 5 pm.

The guillotine process allows for a vote on outstanding demands for grants, whether discussed or not, once the time frame allotted for the discussion is over due to ongoing political issues. The fourth batch involved cash outgo of Rs 85,315 crore (mainly GST compensation of Rs 60,500 crore to the states).

On March 5, when the house was adjourned after the opposition stormed the well over the NPA and PNB issue, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responded to it by way of a press conference from the party headquarters. With the passage of the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill, the budget exercise is complete in the lower house.

The Karti Chidambaram case, seen as a way of targeting senior Congress leader and former minister P. Chidambaram, has also added fuel to the tension, even though the BJP has not commented on it in recent days.

Parliament remained deadlocked for the seventh consecutive day on Tuesday as the Opposition parties, NDA constituent TDP and some others stuck to their various demands even as the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress traded charges, accusing each other for the logjam.

The scenes were no different in Rajya Sabha. Since the legislation is a money bill, the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP lacks the numbers, has no power to hold it up and is obligated to return it to the Lok Sabha in two weeks. Budget passage is a constitutional obligation without which the government can not spend a single penny on its functioning.

Meanwhile opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, today alleged that the Government was "bulldozing' the agenda without any discussion in Parliament which has witnessed the post-recess Budget session getting washed out for the past one week".

The provisions of Finance Bill, 2018 relating to direct taxes seek to amend the Income-tax Act, 1961 (hereafter referred to as "the Act") to continue to provide momentum to the buoyancy indirect taxes through deepening and widening of the tax base, reducing the corporate tax rate for micro, small and medium enterprises, promoting horizontal equity in personal income-tax and enhancing the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the tax administration.