Lok Sabha passes Budget without debate

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha today passed without discussion the Finance Bill 2018 and a Rs 89.25 lakh crore spending plan for the next fiscal year beginning April 1, all in a matter of 25 minutes during which opposition parties shouted slogans and created the din.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s 21 amendments to the Bill, which contains taxation proposals for 2018-19, were approved by voice vote, and so was the Appropriation Bill which detailed spending plans for 99 government ministries and departments.

With this, the Parliamentary approval for the Modi government’s fifth and final Budget is complete in Lok Sabha.

It is probably the first time in recent years that the Lok Sabha had not discussed and voted even a single ministry’s demand for grants (spending plan). In the recent past, Union budgets were passed without discussion in 2013-14 and 2003-04 when, like today, all demands were guillotined.

The amendments approved by the Lok Sabha included the one providing for grandfathering of capital gains accrued on unlisted entities till January 31. It also provided for methodology for valuation of capital gains.

In the Budget for 2018-19 presented on February 1, Jaitley brought back a tax on long-term capital gains on listed equities.

Long-term capital gains of over Rs 1 lakh will be taxed at 10 per cent. However, all gains up to January 31, 2018 will be grandfathered, he had said in the Budget speech.

The Lok Sabha passed the appropriation bills after negating several cut motions moved by the opposition parties.

With opposition paralysing the functioning of Parliament in the second half of the Budget session over issues ranging from India’s biggest bank fraud at PNB to sharing of Cauvery waters and special package for Andhra Pradesh, the government decided to bring the budget for approval even though the session is scheduled to go on till April 6.

It was taken up soon after the House met after the first adjournment of proceedings at the beginning of the day.

Opposition parties cried foul over the move with Congress, NCP and TMC staging a walkout while the Telgu parties – TDP, TRS and YSR-Congress were in the well shouting slogans.

Samajwadi Party too was in the well of the house protesting clamp down on the media during the counting of votes for Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll.

Earlier, Congress, Trinamool, DMK, RJD, SP, Left, NCP among others had submitted a memorandum to the Speaker, objecting to what it called was government’s “arrogance and unilateral move to bulldoze all financial business without discussing them in the House”.

The Lok Sabha also later passed, through a voice vote, the fourth batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2017-18. The fourth batch involved cash outgo of Rs 85,315 crore, mainly on compensating states for loss of revenue from implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Jaitley moved the Finance Bill 2018, which contains taxation proposals of his fifth and final budget, as well as the appropriation bill that details of spending in various departments, amid din created by slogan-shouting opposition. The bills were passed by voice vote.

Ruling BJP-led NDA has an absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament.

The appropriation bill was approved after a guillotine was applied which essentially means that all outstanding demands for grants from various departments are put to vote at once whether they are discussed or not.

With the passage of the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill, the budget exercise is complete in the lower house.

Technically, the two Bills also have to go to Rajya Sabha but since they are money bill they would be considered approved if the Upper House of Parliament does not return them within 14 days.

The Opposition has an upper hand in the Rajya Sabha.

Neither Lok Sabha nor Rajya Sabha has transacted any substantial business in the past eight days.

Earlier this week, the BJP had issued a three-day whip to its members to be present in the House.

Budget passage is a constitutional obligation without which the government cannot spend a single penny on its functioning.

Opposition parties protested against the passing of the Budget without a debate as the session is to continue till April 6. (PTI)


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