In what has been a very busy session so far, both Houses of Parliament passed many Bills this week — the GST Bill, the Finance Bill and the Mental Healthcare Bill to name a few. Last week also witnessed many stormy discussions in both Houses, many continuing well up to late in the day.
After rallying over details of the GST Bill, the Lok Sabha finally passed the landmark Bill on March 30, 2017.
6.00 p.m.: Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha adjourned till 11 a.m. April 6.
Discussions on GST and SDG to continue tomorrow.
5.30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
Jairam Ramesh : The one clause in the Bill which has caused worry is the anti-profit bill. Clause 171(1) uses the word 'shall'. Clause 171(2) uses the word 'may'.
No economist has been able to come up with the formula of what determines unjust enrichment. Prices can fall or increase, but if taxes fall, your prices shall fall. In practical tax administration terms, this is one more point of harrasment. A modern, liberal, open-minded FM has given his support. I could not believe that a man who called Vodafone as tax terrorism would introduce a section 132 in the Finance Bill.
5.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha
CPI(M) Tripura MP Jitendra Chaudhury: China's cultivable land is less than India even if its land area is more than India. The budget for the agriculture, education those are not enhancing. In 2014, the corporate medias own a lot of wealth. Many states are advanced in terms of education and health. Unless these aspects can be taken care of, nothing can be achieved.
NCP MP from Maharashtra, Supriya Sule: I must compliment the minister. Maharashtra had a bad incident where an orthopedic doctor couldn't help a patient, the doctor was hurt, even though the patient's condition was not his specialisation, it is unfair and then doctors went on strike. Doctors are the people who will take us to the SDG that we speak of. India is changing. We have many good doctors. But technology has taken over. So the bills are so scary that an average Indian cannot afford. What we need is a universal healthcare.
5.00 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
BJP MP from Maharashtra, Ajay Sancheti: For example, if someone buys a vehicle in a state, if it costs Rs.110 in one state and Rs.105 in another, he will get it from the other state. With GST, that person will have to pay only one tax.
INC MP from Karnataka, Jairam Ramesh: We have reached a stage where we are going to pass this bill. Now the finishing touches are being given by Mr. Jaitley. He deserves one cheer. I congratulate Mr. Jaitley for being in power but there has been a long history of GST. Need clarity on how govt will compensate local bodies.
5.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha
INC MP from Assam, Gourav Gogoi: We must focus on the quality of the healthcare. Prescribing antibiotics to a person with headache leads to certain resistance over a period of time. I urge the Ministry of Health to look into the issue of superbugs. Even a common cold can become fatal. Is the govt serious?
BJP MP from Haryana, Rattan Lal Kataria: Tuberculosis is a matter of concern. Today, we see many diabetes patients. HIV/AIDS patients should be monitored. Tobacco usage should also be checked.
4.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha
Members votes on legislation; clause by clause consideration of the bill. Amendments moved by Prof Saugata Roy, Mamtaz Sanghamitra, Adhir Ranjan Choudhury.
LS passes The Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill, 2017.
Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals begins.
Shiv Sena MP from Maharashtra, Bhavana Gawali: There is a need for mobile units for health issues in villages.
Bihar BJP MP Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal: If we cannot provide clean water or food to our people, we cannot develop. National Health Policy has to help in this. I suggest that blood group should be added to drivers' licence.
4.30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
DMK MP from Tamil Nadu, T.K.S. Elangovan: In certain areas, taxes should not be there. Portable drinking water and bricks used for construction, must be exempt from tax. If govt is considering of removing cess, it should seek the opinion of trade unions. There are cess for specific purpose; we have a library cess in Tamil Nadu. I support the bill.
Madhya Pradesh INC MP Digvijaya Singh: Businessmen have to file tax returns many times. Do we have infrastructure to make it online? Small and medium businessmen will be impacted if we don't regulate this.
4.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha
MoS (Independent Charge) Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman: The Footwear Design course fees that is going to be taken from students is fully self-financed. When I say "self financed" I don't mean the capital expenditure in building it. It only means the fees for running. The cost of the course has never deterred students from coming in. The last of the members who spoke, wanted it in Kozhikode.
The students irrespective of certificate or degrees have been placed very well.
This country has given legitimate leather for this industry. I want to underscore the point that the existing seven centres in the campuses, that the male female ratio is almost the same. Women students have been given enough attention.
As regards to reservation, 100% existing laws on reservation of laws will be implemented in the FDDI. The Footwear Design and Development Institute will be an institute of national importance.
Opposition MPs disrupt Minister's reply.
4.00 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
CPI(M) MP from Kerala, C.P. Narayanan talks about protecting lives of beedi workers. There has been a continuous concentration of power at the centre. I agree with my friend Derek O'Brien.
3.30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
AITC MP Derek O'Brien: Over 17 years, we have evolved. I will get to the economics of it. Let me talk about the politics of it. We are sitting in this arc and we can see on both sides. GST is 'Go, Slow, Thrust'. All of us have tried to be the thrust. The govt 'goes' for it, has to move slow.
The Centre may compensate the states.
3.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha
West Bengal INC MP Adhir Ranjan Choudhury: I'd like to draw the attention, please listen to me. Non-leather footwear has achieved higher exports than leather footwear. The institute has been mired in controversy. 3609 students are going to look for jobs. What are the steps taken for them to receive their diplomas? The students have alleged that it is a mere money-making college and they are being misguided. Madam, please ensure the supply of raw hide.
INC MP from Kozhikode M.K. Raghavan talks about the leather workers of Kerala.
3.00 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
Uttar Pradesh SP MP Naresh Agarwal asks about village industries. Will GST help rural economy? I also would like to know about how it would increase revenue. We need clarity on who will monitor the network.
AIADMK MP from Tamil Nadu, S.R. Balasubramoniyan: The working groups can seek the views and the govt can take a call on the groups. GST will be the biggest reform but there are many challenges. Regarding the revenue rate, it is one the prominent factors for success. The govt is to ensure that it's revenue remains the same. India is an agrarian economy. GST doesn't affect agriculture.
3.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha
CPI-M MP from West Bengal Mohammad Salim: Footwear industry is one of the areas from which we can achieve big. In training for footwear design, govt institutes provide diplomas but private institutes give degrees. Why is that? Also, after UP elections, people are getting killed over cows; how will leather industry thrive?
Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai: We have to pass the bill before 4 p.m.
SAD MP Sher Singh Ghubaya: Modi govt has brought this for skill development; we want employment opportunities for youth.
RJD MP from Bihar Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav: Ambedkar said once, "No one should be blackmailed based on his caste." Make Dalits priests in temples. Let Hindu and Muslims be brothers to each other.
2.30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
BJP MP from Rajasthan, Bhupendra Yadav: GST will help the poor in many ways. The Centre and States will together work on many fronts and bring the country forward. Ease of doing business and reduction of transaction costs are all taken into consideration.
If one travels from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, there are many barriers in check posts. Once GST is implemented, all these issues won't be there. GST Council will resolve both State and Centre issues.
2.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha
Konda Vishweshwar Reddy of TRS in Telangana: Handmade leather is a art and a craft. In other countries, handmade leather footwear industry is thriving. Institutes should look into leather products like the ones from Vikarabad instead of Kolhapuri slippers.
I am wearing one of those Vikarabad chappals but when other MPs talk about Indian footwear, they'll be wearing Gucci and other foreign brands.
The poorest of the poor are involved in this business. We like to be in the India leather map. We request the Minister to support that. The institute is completed, we request the Minister to inaugurate it soon. We request Centre support for this leather park.
TDP MP from Andhra Pradesh, Narasimham Thota discusses footwear design and development. The govt can provide grant to institutes.
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 p.m.
12.50 p.m.: Lok Sabha:
Sirajuddin Ajmal requests the government to order an inquiry into missing women from Assam and other parts of Northeast.
M. B. Rajesh accuses the government of having failed to ensure the safety of data collected under Aadhaar.
BJP member Devji Patel alleges "dadagiri" by private airlines. "They allocate different seats to members of the same group or family," he says.
Shiv Sena member raises the issue of airlines banning party MP Ravindra Gaikwad.
MoS P.P. Chaudhary says there is no question of info leak from the Aadhar system in Dhoni's case. He had a photograph taken with the Aadhar agent holding the slip and the photo was made public. ''We have already issued an advisory to all stakeholders to ensure that personal data are not published. No demographic data has to be published. I reiterate that our system is foolproof that no demographic or biometric detail can be leaked.''
12.40 p.m.: Lok Sabha
Prahlad Joshi raises the issue of student suicides. Says it is almost one-thirds of the total incidents of suicide. Mental health is not being taken seriously in institutes and universities. ''I request the government to ensure that universities have round-the-clock on campus counselors.''
Saugata Roy says the government has reduced the interest rates on saving schemes like EPF. This has hit the lower and middle income classes badly. The people who trusted the post offices have been betrayed. Now commercial and nationalised banks will reduce the rates and big businesses will benefit. The government should withdraw the cuts.
12.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha
George Baker (nominated member) asks the government to take punitive action against piracy, demands 15 years imprisonment for the "offence".
12.22 p.m.: Rajya Sabha
Hansraj Ahir: Twenty-two people from Kerala were suspected to have left India to join the Islamic State (IS). Action has been taken by the NIA on 16 of them.
Dijvijay Singh raises the issue of the Saifullah case and IS claim, to which Home Minister Rajnath Singh replies, "I had not said they belonged to the IS but referred to the suspicion springing from material confiscated from them. The NIA is looking at it. I don't want to say anything more at present."
Vijaysai Reddy says that maybe Muslim youth are being radicalised because of economic reasons. He also questions about government measures to check this issue.
Rajnath Singh: India need not worry much about IS. If some youth are radicalised, we too can counter the radicalisation. There are several schemes for their skill development, providing loans, etc.
12.15 p.m.: Lok Sabha
Shiv Sena raises the issue of privilege notice for misbehavior with member Ravindra Gaikwad. Travelling is his constitutional right that is being disallowed, says a Shiv Sena MP, asking the government to respond.
K.C. Venugopal raises issue of racial attacks against Africans in India. "Need independent investigation and strong action from govt."
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj says: "The incident took place when some miscreants took advantage of the anger among locals in the death of 19-year-old Manish, allegedly due to drug overdose. An independent inquiry is under way into the two incidents, including that of Kenyan national. Six people have been arrested. Before the inquiry is completed, please do not say it is driven by racial discrimination. We do not immediately say that attacks in US are due to racial discrimination. When we checked the visa of the Kenyan national, we found that it had expired months ago. Just because she said something, one cannot level allegations of racial discrimination. The MoS has held meetings with them and assured all possible action. The measures taken by India on this aspect cannot at all be considered inadequate."
12.10 p.m.: Lok Sabha
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) raises the issue of Pakistan planning to make Gilgit and Baltistan its fifth province.
Ms. Swaraj replies, saying that the whole of J&K is a part of India. So Pakistan's claim that it will make Gilgit Baltistan it's fifth province is not acceptable to India.
12.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha
Mallikarjun Kharge questions about the status of notice for privilege motion.
Speaker says she will take a decision on that.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar intervenes and says Mr. Kharge and Mr. Venugopal are well versed with the rules of privilege motion.They should wait till a decision is taken.
11.50 a.m.: Question hour concludes in the Lok Sabha . All notices for adjournment motion disallowed. The National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill is introduced.
Mr. Venugopal raises the issue of delay in appointment of Lokpal, to which Speaker Sumitra Mahajan says it is under the Chair's consideration.
Mr. Venugopal says ''the Finance Minister said the Bill was with the Standing Committee, which is not true, I want to move a privilege motion.''
11.40 a.m.: Lok Sabha
Asaduddin Owaisi: Will the government call scholars/Ulemas of all ASEAN countries to such a conference?
BJP MP from Vilaspur asks if the Railways will use its unused land along the track for water conservation and plantation.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu replies: 1.25 crore saplings are already planted, 5 crore is the target. We have entered into agreements with respective State governments. A detailed plan of action has been drawn up, nurseries will be set up. All MPs can join the movement to convert it into a public movement. 1527 water bodies revived along rail tracks.
11.30 a.m.: Rajya Sabha Prakash Javadekar: In JN, for years SC/ST posts were not filled. We will fill these and there will be more seats next year.
11.25 a.m.: Lok Sabha
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj: Terrorism is a major concern all over the the world. In ASEAN, de-radicalisation is being carried out..We decided to hold a de radicalisation conference, it will be held soon and all ASEAN countries will be invited. Cross border terrorism and de- radicalisation are the two themes of the conference; South China Sea will not be raised as an issue in the upcoming conference.
MP Satya Pal Singh : Will the government hold de-radicalisation conferences in different parts of the country , including J& K?
11.22 a.m.: Rajya Sabha adjourned till 11.30 a.m. amid protests over EVMs tampering.
11.15 a.m.: Lok Sabha
Hema Malini asks whether Railways has plans to launch a cleanliness drive and set up monitoring units to prevent local vendors from operating on board trains and railway stations.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu agrees, saying it is discouraged. This is an ongoing drive against such practice. New catering service announced to encourage locals, domicile certificate the criterion for allowing people to set up such stalls, says the Minister.
TMC member Anupam Hazra asks, "Quality of food on board Sealdah Rajdhani Express is bad. Minister Babul Suprio also suffered from food poisoning. What initiative has been taken in this regard."
11.10 a.m.: Rajya Sabha
Ghulam Nabi: There is doubt on fair elections. For the first time, EVMs are in the shadow of doubt. We are asked why the suspicion just in UP. It is because it was done smartly. If they had done so in all 5 states, there would have been doubts. I request EVMs not to be used in Gujarat and Himachal.
Speaker Kurien: The EC has already said that this is not possible. Please take it up with them.
11.05 a.m.: Lok Sabha
Question Hour begins in LS. Manipur MP demands Community Radio services in local dialects.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: Our Minister has taken decisions especially for North-East, increased grants from 75 % to 90% , with upper cap of Rs.7.5 lakh, for community radio. Long duration advertisements for sustenance of the model has also been allowed. Even NGOs can be given licence. As of now there are 206 stations, letter of intent issued to 564 applicants, it is for non profit purposes..so simplifying the process of getting licence. To make it sustainable we have increased grants, made it simpler to get ads, says Minister Rathore
11.00 a.m.: Rajya Sabha
Javadekar takes on Digvijaya: Election commission has said EVMs are fine. Don't waste time of the House. Please go to EC if you have problems.
Following is today’s list of business in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha:
Bill to be introduced:
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017;
The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017;
The National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017;
Consideration of Rajya Sabha Amendments: The Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
Bills for consideration and passing:
The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
The Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill, 2017;
The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2017.
The Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017.
Further discussion on Sustainable Development Goals.
Bills for consideration and return:
The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017.
The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017.
The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017.
The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017.
Bills for consideration and passing:
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016.