Lok Sabha Passes Taxation Bill After 2-day Debate Between BJP & Congress On PM-CARES
After two days of heated debate on PM-CARES and GST in Lok Sabha, the lower parliamentary house on Saturday, passed the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020. The bill which was promulgated on March 31, 2020, provides for several relaxations related to compliance, extension, waiver of penalty to certain laws. The Bill includes several clauses related to GST compliances, PM-CARES Fund donations, direct & indirect taxes - which has led to heated debate in Lok Sabha.
Arguments in Lok Sabha
Opposing the Bill, Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra claimed that tit cornered the public funds for PM-CARES to the leading to lesser contributions to the state relief funds amid Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Similarly, Congress MP and Leader of Opposition Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury questioned the need for creating a parallel fund when PMNRF (Prime Minister's National Relief Fund) was already present. He also questioned the Centre's alleged loan from China's state-run bank after the Galwan clashes, where 20 Indian soldiers were martyred.
Defending the Bill, Finance Minister Nirmala said the ordinance was necessary to defer various compliance deadlines under GST and Income Tax (I-T) Act during the COVID-19 times. She also countered Congress' claims on PM-CARES Fund stating that as the Congress President is a part of the managing committee of PM-NRF, was transparency achieved? She also assured that as CSR procedures were similar in PM-CARES and PM-NRF, transparency was maintained in the body. Comparing PM-NRF to PM-CARES - she stated that both bodies were not accessed by RTI, audited by independent auditors, but unlike PM-CARES, she said PM-NRF was an unregistered trust.
Supplementing her claims, MoS Finance Anurag Thakur explained as PM-CARES Fund is a public charitable trust, hence CAG audit was not recommended. He added that the trustees of the PM-CARES Fund are all ex officio members, such as Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs, and Minister of Finance. He added that the fund has been set up under the law, registered as Trust under the 1908 Act and an independent auditor has been appointed- the same auditor which audits PM National Relief Fund.
Ruckus in Lok Sabha
Earlier on Friday, Congress MP Manish Tewari claimed that the PM-CARES fund must have been formed through legislation as it has the institution of the Prime Minister attached to it. In response, Finance MoS Anurag Thakur lashed out at Congress alleging that the Opposition was against PM-CARES Fund just for the sake of it. Listing Congress' opposition to EVMs, Jan Dhan, demonetization, Triple Talaq & GST, he claimed that the Opposition only wished that the truth was defected. He also created a controversy stating that ' Former PM Nehru established Prime Minister's National Relief Fund in 1948 like a royal order'. This led to major ruckus which forced Lok Sabha to be adjourned four times.