“PAC itself is a joint parliamentary committee”

There can hardly be two joint parliamentary committees on the same issue, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, pointing out that the Public Accounts Committee, now examining the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the telecom matter, was also a joint parliamentary committee.

“The PAC itself is a joint parliamentary committee. It has not come from heaven. It comprises 22 members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. Each member of the PAC is a member of parliament; I don't understand why two joint parliamentary committees should be set up on the issue?” he told journalists who sought his comments on the issue on Saturday.

He added that as soon as the CAG report on the 2G spectrum issue was received, the matter was referred to the PAC; it was the constitutional responsibility of the PAC to examine the report. He said that he would appeal to the Opposition to return to the House.

Left Front leader Biman Bose said that the telecom scam was one of the biggest in India's history and it was not clear why the Congress was doggedly refusing to allow a JPC probe. “It is part of a democratic system,” he said, adding that the party's stance leads one to believe that “there is something fishy about the whole issue.”

Mr. Mukherjee inaugurated a new office building of the Income tax Department and an ‘Ayakar Seva Kendra' (ASK) under the Sevottam Scheme in Chinsurah in Hooghly. He said the government's aim was to lower tax rates and bring tax- evaders into the net.

Chinsurah will be the first centre in India to have such a facility, which will be replicated in all offices of the Income Tax Department in the coming years, according to the Office of the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kolkata. Pilot-runs have already been held in Pune, Kochi and Chandigarh where ASKs were made operational during the first phase. It has been decided to extend the implementation of the Sevottam Scheme to 10 other locations including Chinsurah.

Mr. Mukherjee said that this region generated Rs. 30 crore of revenue for the government coffers.

Direct Tax Code

On the Direct Tax Code, he said the Bill had been placed in Parliament after a lot of debate among the stakeholders and is now being discussed by the various committees. “It is an attempt at simplification of the tax laws and procedures,” he said.

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