Parliament proceedings | My name is Nirmala and I am Sarvabhala, says Finance Minister

 thehindu.com  12/02/2019 12:38:50  5

The Parliament passed a Bill to ban e-cigarettes, while Lok Sabha passed a Bill reducing corporate tax to all companies.

Both Houses of Parliament had members across party lines condemning the rape of women in several parts of the country, including Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

Here are the live updates:

The House rejects statutory resolution brought by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Sougata Roy withdraws some of the amendments he moved.

Amendments moved by the government are accepted by voice vote.

Amendments moved by opposition members are negated by voice vote.

Lok Sabha passes the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Nirmala Sitharaman says government has periodically given relief to individual tax payers. But now we want more investments, so we have reduced corporate tax.

She says her remarks on Ola-Uber is based on an RBI study.

I have asked banks not to declare any MSMEs as NPA, she says. She says the GST revenue has crossed Rs. one lakh crores.

Ms. Sitharaman credits Ravi Shankar Prasad for BSNL reaching an operative profit level. She says the PSU has been given cash infusion. The VRS scheme is totally voluntary, she says.

On the compensation for States, Ms. Sitharaman says when India becomes a manufacturing hub both Centre and States will benefit.

Members seek clarification.

Sougata Roy wants to know why not reduce personal income tax instead of corporate tax.

TRS Namo Nageshwar Rao member asks if States will be compensated for the loss.

TDP member Jayadev Galla asks if economic downturn is cyclical or structural.

NCP member Supriya Sule asks about reduction of GST revenue.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey asks if India will come out of IFRS.

DMK's Dayanidhi Maran asks about revival of BSNL. He also asks about government's new taxation policy.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury lists out that contribution of Congress for women empowerment. He requests the government to bring women reservation Bill.

He says he is not against her. Recalling her earlier statements, he says her speech today was full of promises bereft of any purpose. He questions the government on farmer suicides and unemployment.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman continues to responds. She compares the GDP of UPA-2 with NDA. GDP goes up and comes down, she says.

Ms. Sitharaman reminds that BSNL was not given money to buy 4G. She accuses the UPA for disarming the BSNL. "We have saved the BSNL," she says. Opposition objects.

She doesn't give a direct answer on the positive impact of reducing corporate taxes. She says she will come back with the data soon.

Gross tax collection has been increased by 5% and it is likely to go up in the last quarter, she says.

She responds in Tamil to Subbarayan (CPI MP). She says the money to farmers goes directly to farmers because of Mr. Modi, she says. She says there is no corruption because of MNREGA. Some members ask for translation, she obliges.

I am Nirmala, and every woman in my party is Sarvabala (powerful), she says.

In Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responds. Thanking members for participating in the debate, she says the government wants to hear and respond to criticisms.

We are a proactive government. I have met many people, many have said I am the worst Finance Minister, even before I completed six months of work, I hear them out. I am willing to hear more, she says.

Why take ordinance route? We didn't want to wait for eight months for reforms to take place, she says. She lists out the number of ordinances passed by older governments. Congress members protests. She responds. Speaker interferes and asks her to address the Chair in a lighter vein.

She says the government has managed to keep the fiscal deficit in tact and within four per cent. On RCEP, Ms. Sitharaman reminds the Congress that they signed the Bali agreement. Without Mr. Modi's efforts, we would not be able to provide MSP today, she says.

Ms. Sitharaman lists out pro-poor schemes brought in by Modi government.

Rajya Sabha passes the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019.

It replaces an ordinance of September 18.

The upper house takes up special mentions. House is adjourned till tomorrow.

Dr. Kirit Premjibhai Solanki is in the Chair.

Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM, says tax collection needs to be increased for social equality but it is being decreased.

Core-sector production in September has gone in the negatives, he says. He also mentions the plight of the auto industry and the increase of retail inflation. He criticises the increase in consumer food prices. "All this is emprirical data. This clearly shows that this country is in recession, " he says.

"I am charging this government by saying that this government is obsessed with the corporates. They hate the common people," he accuses.

Speaker Om Birla is in the Chair.

Thomas Chazhikadan, KC(M), says upon analysing the Bill, it can be concluded that it offers minimal resolution and does not address actual problems. Even though it appears to have a constructive approach towards corporate tax, upon deeper analysis it is found that the Bill is only serving old wine in a new bottle, he says.

Benny Behanan, INC, says unemployment is at its peak. The government has money when it comes to feeding the corporates, he alleges. He opposes the Bill.

Dayanidhi Maran, DMK, says Indian businesses need to be focused on for survival of the Indian economy. "Adanis and Ambanis are only making money. The rest of India is draining out," he says.

Anurag Singh Thakur, MoS, Finance, slams Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury over his statement on calling Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as "Nirbala". He says it is a slight to the capabilities of women. He seeks an apology from Mr. Chowdhury.

K.K. Ragesh, CPI(M), had moved a statutory resolution opposing the Ordinance on e-cigarettes.

"I am not opposed to banning e-cigarettes," he says. "But we do not live in an ordinance-Raj. We live in a democracy."

"This House has time and again discussed how this government has been promulgating Ordinances," he says.

Digvijaya Singh, INC, asks due to what special reason the government has decided to ban e-cigarettes even as cigarette, gutkha consumption continues.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan rises to speak. "In a country as vast as India, when a particular product has a very wide consumer base and social acceptance, it becomes very difficult to ban it... I was the first one to bring in anti-tobacco legislation," he says.

India ranks among the topmost countries in the fight against tobacco, he adds. He goes on to enumerate what measures have been taken to tackle the tobacco menace. "You should not be suspicious of our intentions," he says.

Supriya Sule, NCP, speaks in support of the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill.

She asks Ms. Sitharaman if direct tax collection has dropped significantly.

She also asks how inflation is going to be stopped. Why is there no holistic approach towards tax reforms throughout the country, she asks.

Rural economy, which is absolutely in the doldrums, needs the biggest push, she says.

She also criticises the statement of Ms. Sitharaman against Rahul Bajaj's statement on economy. She reads out a newspaper report where Ms. Sitharaman allegedly said Mr. Bajaj's statement could harm national interests if it gained traction, she says.

P. Chidambaram was one of the sane voices that wrote about the Indian economy, she adds.

Jayadev Galla, TDP, says the PM-KISAN scheme has not made an impact as rural distress continues. Unemployment is also at a 40-year high. He blames this on low consumption. Individual tax-payers need to be given tax relief, he says. The farmer needs to be made viable, he adds.

Ajay Misra, BJP, accuses Rahul Bajaj of wrongdoing pertaining to three sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh.

He lends his support to the Bill. In November, tax collection crossed Rs. 1 lakh crore, he says, while elaborating on the government's measures to improve the economy.

Gaurav Gogoi, INC, says the current government does not want to heed any form of criticism.

The government hides fact and is far from ground reality, he alleges. When the auto industry is affected, they blame the millenials, he says. They hid unemployment data, did not reveal off-book borrowings, he adds.

He criticises demonetisation and GST. This Bill is a multi-layered corporate tax structure, he says. Just like GST is a complicated corporate tax structure, so is this Bill, he adds.

Santanu Sen (Trinamool) speaks about how passive smoking affects people.

He reads out the market shares of large tobacco companies. He says smoking rooms in hotels must be reconsidered.

Amar Patnaik (BJD) compares this with the gutkha ban. He says gutkha companies started selling pan masalas and tobacco separately that you can mix and consume. He says that all the Bill says about how nicotine affects the body is true for regular tobacco products too.

V. Vijaysai Reddy, YSRCP, says electronic nicotine delivery systems are much more attractive as compared to the initial bad taste left by cigarettes. The WHO convention on tobacco control invited all signatories to ban or regulate e-cigarettes. About 30 countries have banned e-cigarettes and their advertisement, he adds. He says he completely supports the ban on e-cigarettes.

Dr. D.P. Vats, BJP, says if cigarettes are the "bad terrorists", e-cigarettes are the "good terrorists". It has to be ensured that cigarette-smokers do not convert into e-cigarette smokers.

Mahua Moitra (Trinamool) says that while she broadly agrees with the Bill, but does not agree with the reasoning that the reduction of corporate tax rate can impact the GDP growth rate.

She blames demonetisation and the implementation of GST. She says this Bill only helps the profitable become more profitable. She says the government has withheld the Direct Tax Code report from the House.

Businesses are struggling because of insane compliance and harassment, she says.

Existing companies cannot utilise these schemes, she says. Are you interested in the illusion of a sop or are you interested in really giving a sop, she asks.

Don't tax rich Indian companies and give special exemption to FIIS, says Ms. Moitra.

The House takes up The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for consideration and passing. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduces the Bill.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says GST rate for individuals must be reduced to stimulate demand. He says the credibility of the government is being affected.

Vijila Satyananth (AIADMK) speaks about the decline in tobacco usage. She also says that smoking areas in airports, restaurants, and even in Parliament should be shut down. She adds that beedi workers must be protected if tobacco use is abolished.

The statutory resolution to repeal the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 is taken up now.

Zero Hour continues in the House.

Nishikant Dubey (BJP) condemns Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for calling Modi and Shah as infiltrators. He wants the government to check if Mr. Chowdhury is an Indian citizen.

Mr. Chowdhury says Members of the Treasury Benches are making mountains out of molehills. He says that the Centre is trying to identify infiltrators in West Bengal and Assam, and creating divisions in the minds of people.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi says Mr. Chowdhury doesn't apologise, he will demand an apology from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Chowdhury says that even Sonia Gandhi has been called an 'infiltrator' by the BJP.

Shouts of 'Shame! Shame!' fill the House. They have become senseless, says Mr. Joshi of the House.

The House takes up the Bill to ban e-cigarettes.

Members begin shouting slogans.

Nama Nageswara Rao, TRS, says highest priority is given in Telangana to prevent crimes against women.

The accused in the Hyderabad case were tracked down in six hours, he says.

It is time to change the laws under IPC and CRPC, he says.

G. Kishan Reddy, MoS, Home Affairs, says the government is ready to make amendments to laws against rape. An integrated emergency response number has been initiated, he says. The calls made at this number will go to local police. The location of the woman making the call will be tracked through satellite, he says.

Uday Pratap Singh, BJP, demands an apology from leader of Opposition in the House, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, INC, for allegedly calling PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah "infiltrators".

Pralhad Joshi, BJP, calls the leader of the Congress party an infiltrator, without naming anyone. He demands unconditional apology from Mr. Chowdhury.

Mr. Chowdhury rises to respond. He says his statement has been misconstrued. BJP MPs protest.

Lok Sabha is adjourned till 2:15 p.m.

Rajya Sabha is adjourned till 2 p.m.

Death penalty, lynching, castration of rapists demanded in RS

Death penalty for rapists, lynching of convicts in public and castration of those convicted were among demands made in Rajya Sabha on Monday as MPs expressed outrage over the Hyderabad rape and murder case and other such incidents in the country.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu rejected adjournment motions on the gang-rape and murder of a young woman veterinarian in Hyderabad but allowed members to make brief mentions on the same and other such incidents elsewhere in the country.

Members cutting across party lines condemned the recent spurt in crime against women and demanded stringent laws that punishes the guilty within a fixed time-frame.

While Naidu described the Hyderabad incident as a disgrace to humanity, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the society will have to tackle this problem at its root.

The guilty should be given stringent punishment without any discrimination of religion or caste, Azad said.

Jaya Bachchan, SP, wanted security personnel in-charge of the area in Hyderabad where the crime took place be held accountable and questions be asked.

She said the rapists should be brought out in public and lynched.

DMKs P. Wilson said courts should be empowered to surgically and chemically castrate convicted rapists before they are released from jails so as to check repeat offenders.

The cost of such procedure should be recovered from the accused by selling his assets, he said, adding list of sexual offenders should also be made public.

Mohd. Ali Khan of the Congress wanted timelines be set for trial of accused in fast track courts and the accused not be given an religious colour.

The accused in the Hyderabad incident belong to four separate religions and not one, he said.

Sanjay Singh of the Aam Adami Party (AAP) said stringent action in all cases of sexual assault on women should be taken after a trial in fast track court and punishment given within a timeframe.

Amar Patnaik of the BJD demanded death for such heinous crimes.

While T K Rangarajan of CPM said laws be framed to tackle crime are not percolating down, Vaiko of the DMK wanted concrete action be taken to deal with such crimes.

Santanu Sen of the TMC wanted strong steps be taken for give out exemplary punishment to the guilty.

Raising the issue of delay in police action in the Hyderabad incident over jurisdiction dispute between police stations, Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar (TDP) wanted capital punishment be given to the rapists in public.

While Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said deterrence is not enough, R K Sinha of the BJP said capital punishment is yet to be given to the guilty of the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi due to appeals in the case.

--PTI

Matters of urgent public importance are being discussed.

K. Ram Mohan Naidu, TDP, condemns the Hyderabad incident, saying such heinous crimes should be given capital punishment and a law should be made in this regard.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says incidents of rape have not reduced even after the Nirbhaya case. If consensus is reached in the House to make a law for such cases, that law will be made, he says.

Speaker Om Birla condoles the Hyderabad incident on behalf of the House.

Manish Tewari, INC, says that Rajguru, Sukhdev and Bhagat Singh should be honoured with the Bharat Ratna Award for the role they played in the Independence struggle.

Vijay Goel, BJP, asks what provisions are coming up to reduce pollution in Delhi and what amount of funding will be provided by the Delhi government.

Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, mentions projects such as the Dwarka Expresssway.

Revised cost estimates of Polavaram Project are being discussed.

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, BJP, Jal Shakti Minister, says the new date for completion of the project is in December 2021.

Dr. Sasmit Patra, BJD, since Polavaram project is being expedited, it will have a huge impact on the people of Odisha.

Mr. Shekhwat addresses the concern, saying such matters are pending in the Supreme Court and before its decision, the matter cannot be discussed in the House.

The next question is on policy on patent rights.

Mr. Gadkari, Minister of MSMEs, says priority is being given to innovation and research. "We are coordinating with the Commerce Ministry," he says.

He responds to another question saying there are collaborations with German institutions regarding setting up of MSMEs. States are supposed to acquire land for the purpose, which has happened in most cases, he adds.

The increase in road accidents is being discussed.

Mr. Gadkari responds to a question, saying road accidents have been reduced the most in Tamil Nadu and other States are being directed to implement similar measures.

M. Shanmugam, DMK, says most drivers are from unorganised sectors.

Mr. Gadkari says the new Motor Vehicles Act provides for pensions and benefits for welfare of drivers. At least 1000 training institutes for drivers are being set up, he says.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman answers questions pertaining to the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank.

She says all small deposit account-holders have been taken care of. She adds that the RBI and the ED have been directed so that the properties being misused by promoters can be used towards depositors' benefit.

The next question pertains to bonded labourers.

Santosh Kumar Gangwar, MoS (Ind.), Labour and Employment, responds to a question, saying cases of bonded labour have been decreasing and every State has been directed to conduct surveys on the matter.

Question Hour ends. Papers are laid on the table.

Chairman Venkaiah Naidu speaks on the delayed legal process that caters to cases of rape like the Hyderabad incident.

He says what is required is not a new Bill, but "political will". Those accused in such crimes should be publicly identified, he adds.

Ravi Prakash Verma, SP, asks what the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and consumer courts are doing to prevent adulteration of food items.

Speaker Om Birla is in the Chair.

Question Hour is underway.

Tax on petrol and diesel is being discussed.

Ramesh Bidhuri, BJP, says small farmers should get diesel at subsidised tax rates.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says such decisions would be under the State Government's discretion.

S.S. Jaunapuria, BJP, asks if petrol and diesel will be brought under GST.

Ms. Sitharaman says the matter should be decided in the GST Council where State Finance Ministers would discuss it.

She adds that the provision to bring petroleum products under the GST regime exists, but determining of rates would depend on the GST Council.

Renuka Singh Saruta, MoS, Tribal Affairs, answers a question pertaining to Fifth and Sixth Schedules. She says that in States that have implemented the Fifth and Sixth Schedules, tribal people's fundamental rights are protected better.

Chairman Venkaiah Naidu is in the Chair.

R.K. Sinha, BJP, condemns the accused in the Hyderabad rape and murder case and says perpetrators of such crimes should be given capital punishment.

Vijila Sathyanath, AIADMK, also elaborates on the same issue.

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