Finance Bill format irks Congress

In defence: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaking in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.  

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday claimed that the ‘sanctity of Budget numbers have been called into question’ and strongly objected to the manner in which Finance 2019 Bill was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

As soon as the Finance Minister introduced the Bill, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP N.K. Premachandran contended that a Finance Bill should be about taxation but the 2019 Finance Bill had provisions to amend a number of laws, including the Benami, SEBI and PMLA Acts and urged Speaker Om Birla to disallow it.

Ms. Sitharaman said the government considered changes to these laws absolutely necessary and pointed out that seven pieces of legislation are being amended to make changes to direct taxes and another seven laws are being changed with regard to indirect taxes.

Though the Speaker allowed the Finance Minister to move the Bill, Mr. Chowdhury charged the government with routinely making amendments to laws that are not related to finance but brought as part of the Finance Bill.

Escaping scrutiny

He said the government had been encroaching upon the territory of Parliament as most of the Bills are not going for scrutiny.

The Congress leader got into a spat with the junior minister for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Meghwal when the Minister pointed out that the Congress leader was raising objections even after the Speaker had allowed the Bill.

“Will you tell me what I have to say?”asked an angry Mr. Chowdhury after the Minister’s intervention. Mr. Meghwal shot back by pointing out that as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, he can speak on the issue.

No road map

Initiating the debate, Mr. Chowdhury said the 2019 Budget had no road map on how the government would achieve its target of a $5 trillion economy in the next five years, especially “when investments had come down, manufacturing was in the doldrums and the economy gasping for employment.”

“Fiscal honesty is being undermined and deficits are underplayed,” he said and added that there was mismatch in certain figures mentioned in the Economic Survey and the Budget.

The Congress leader claimed that though the Centre earned by imposing cesses and surcharges, those collections are not devolved to the States.

“You should not see the past as a cancelled cheque... you should look at from where we started,” Mr. Chowdhury said and advised the Modi government not to be ‘boastful and vainglorious.’

“The country is gasping for employment... the employment figures are heart-wrenching,” he said and stressed that the Budget should have a ‘wealth generation’ to build the economy.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 6:12:17 AM |

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