Parliament’s Budget Session likely to be curtailed amid ongoing state Assembly polls

New Delhi: The curtailment of the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament is likely in view of Assembly polls in four states and one Union Territory. The month-long second part of the Budget session that started on March 8 is expected to be curtailed and may end on March 25, said an ANI report citing sources. 

The Budget session, which was earlier scheduled to conclude on April 8, could be adjourned sine die before time because several members on behest of their parties had earlier approached the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha to curtail the session citing elections as the reason.

Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party Lok Sabha Floor Leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Leader of the TMC Parliamentary Party in Rajya Sabha Derek O`Brien had written to Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman respectively requesting them to adjourn the same.

Notably, Assembly elections are being held in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry from March 27 to April 29, and the results will be announced on May 2. 

The first part of the Budget Session commenced with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind on January 29 and concluded on February 29. 

Finance Bill 2021 passed in Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Finance Bill, 2021, which gives effect to the financial proposals of the central government for the financial year 2021-22. The passage of the Finance Bill by Parliament marks the completion of the budgetary process.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman replied to the debate on the bill which has some changes in the proposals made in the union budget. She said the changes have been made largely to boost ease of doing business and easing compliance burden. She also said there will be no change in the rate of income tax.

Sitharaman said, “This is a point on which even as the budget was being prepared, the Prime Minister was clear that we are not going to generate resources by raising the tax to meet the contingency which is arising out of coronavirus.”

Several opposition members pointed to high prices of petrol and diesel and said the petroleum products should be brought under Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, but the FM Sitharaman said that the Centre is open to discussing the idea in the GST Council meeting. 

NaBFID Bill passed in Lok Sabha

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the development finance institution (DFI) being set up to fund the infrastructure sector will remain outside the purview of the CAG, CVC and CBI, a move aimed at enabling faster decision-making.

The DFI, called the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID), however, is going to be answerable to Parliament. The Lok Sabha later passed the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID) Bill 2021 with a voice vote.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “It will be absolutely answerable to the Parliament. So we are not going to one extreme… Where there is no oversight at all, but that heavy fear of taking decisions as a result of overlapping oversight is now being given space wherein legitimate commercial decisions can be taken professionally.”

Sitharaman clarified that the government will be able to give sovereign guarantee even if its stake reduces to 26 per cent because it is not linked to stake but to the legislation.

The government intends to bring down its stake in NaBFID from 100 per cent to 26 per cent once the institution stabilises.
She also said the government will provide Rs 5,000 crore as a grant and Rs 20,000 crore equity capital.

This government-owned development finance institution will help fund about 7,000 infra projects under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP). The legislation will give effect to the Budget announcement made by the finance minister on February 1. The government has proposed Rs 20,000 crore to capitalise the institution.

(With Agency Inputs)

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