Lok Sabha passes Union Budget without debate

Casey Dawson
March 16, 2018

"As requested by the minister of parliamentary affairs, keeping in view the urgency involved in the transaction of the financial business, we can not defer the same any longer", Sumitra said before she adjourned the House to meet again at 12 noon and take up financial business.

Later through a voice vote, the fourth batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2017-18 were passed.

Ms. Mahajan agreed with the views of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar that the guillotine (end of discussion on various demands for grants), the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bills be taken up at 12 noon instead of 5 p.m.

There was time to debate and discuss the bills till April 6 when the session is slated to end, many leaders maintained.

Though the House resumed functioning after an hour the proceedings were stalled again by the protesting members forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day and will resume on Wednesday. The Centre did not allow any debate, any exchange of ideas and suggestions on the Bill.

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The livid Opposition on Wednesday raised cries of "murder of democracy" in the Parliament. In the recent past, Union budgets were passed without discussion in 2013-14 and 2003-04 when, like today, all demands were guillotined.

"This is a political crisis". Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan was forced to adjourn the Lower House till 12 pm as Opposition party members stormed the Well.

"The sittings of the House are being disrupted continuously for the past few days. This shows the government's arrogance and unilateral move to bulldoze (through) all the financial business without discussing them", it had said in its letter to her.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the Finance Bill 2018, which contains taxation proposals of his fifth and final budget, as well as the appropriation bill that details spendings in various departments, amid din created by slogan-shouting opposition.

The modified tax proposals include changes to the long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax regime for stocks and mutual funds, which will be reintroduced after almost 15 years. While there was good news for foreigners doing one-off transactions in India by relaxing the requirement for using PAN, for those having digital transactions, the rules were tightened further. Start-ups had some relief with the amendment introduced to link the turnover limit of ₹25 crore to the year of claim of 100 per cent tax break.

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