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Key economic Bills may not be taken up in winter session
November, 17th 2011

In what seems to be a setback for economic reforms, the Government has put off introduction or consideration and passing of key Bills such as the Land Acquisition Bill, Direct Taxes Code Bill, the Banking and Insurance Bills during the winter session of Parliament.

The winter session is scheduled to start from November 22.

Giving details about the business of the proposed session, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pavan Kumar Bansal, said, The Standing Committee on Rural Development needs more time on the land acquisition Bill; so, that is why, it is unlikely to give its report during the session.

The Minister did not elaborate the reasons for the delay in the Banking and Insurance Bill. At this moment, I can only say that since there is no clarity from the Standing Committee and the concerned Ministry, we have not put up these Bills, the Minister said. A person close to the Standing Committee on Finance told Business Line, Serious differences within the committee are yet to be resolved. So, it is not sure if the reports will be tabled during the winter session. The banking Bill was referred to the standing committee in March, while the Insurance Bill was sent to the committee in 2009.

Although delay in the Bill for the Direct Taxes Code may cast doubt over introduction of the new direct tax system from April 1, 2012 as repeatedly desired by the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, a senior Finance Ministry official tried to allay this fear.

He clarified that if Parliament takes the Direct Taxes Code Bill for consideration and passage during the Budget session, even then, the new tax system could replace the five-decade old Income Tax Act, 1961 from April 1 next year.

Explaining this, the official said that the new tax Bill could be clubbed with the Finance Bill. The Finance Bill, which has provision for changes in the laws governing income tax and corporation tax, usually gets nod from Parliament in June, but provisions of the Income Tax come into effect from April 1. However, making the Direct Taxes Code effective from April 1, 2012 will require extra efforts, the official admitted.

In the meantime, Mr Bansal announced a list of 31 Bills for consideration and passage during the winter session. It also aims to introduce 23 new Bills during the 21 sittings of the session. The Finance Ministry will also seek the approval of Parliament for additional expenditure.

Mr Bansal said, The effort is to take at least two Bills during each of the sitting. We will also have discussion on inflation, black money, corruption and bifurcation of the States, besides others.

Talking about the three key Bills, the Lokpal Bill, the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010 and the Judicial Standards and

Accountability Bill, 2010, Mr Bansal said the Government is committed to uprooting corruption. However, it can't be done through one or two instruments but a set of instruments, he added.

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