The Bihar Assembly today passed the Bihar Value Added Tax (VAT) (Amendment), Bill, 2016 which was one of the eight legislations passed on Tuesday for taking the state ahead in taxation, education and other areas.
All eight legislations were tabled in the Assembly with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself taking the lead by introducing the Bihar Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and Bihar Law Repeal Act, 2016.
While seven of the Bills were passed unanimously by the members, the Bihar VAT (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by a majority vote with 151 votes in favour and 51 against it, after the opposition BJP members pressed for division of votes.
The Bihar VAT (Amendment) Bill, 2016 proposes one per cent hike in VAT rate on various goods at six per cent from the earlier five per cent, while there will be half a per cent increase of goods not covered under the Bihar VAT Act, 2005 at 15 per cent from the previous 14.5 per cent.
Defending the tax hike proposal, Commercial Taxes Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav said that the State government required additional funds to meet shortfall caused by enforcement of total prohibition in Bihar and also for implementation of the salary hike to the employees in view of implementation of the seventh pay report.
The opposition BJP members alleged that the hike in taxes will put more burden on the poor people who will have to pay more to purchases various goods and using services.
Another legislation, the Bihar Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, moved by the Transport Minister Chandrika Rai and aimed at levying more additional taxes on purchase of vehicle and licence fees on various vehicles was also passed by the house.
Replying to a debate on the the Bihar Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Rai said that additional taxes have been proposed to collect funds for putting in place road safety mechanism to prevent fatalities in road accident
Another significant legislation, the Bihar Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016 proposed to extend the tenure of the incumbent Lokayukta to 70 years or till selection of the successor to the post by a committee under the legislative council chairperson, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said while replying to a brief debate on the bill.
The Bihar Law Repeal Act, 2016, moved by the Chief Minister and passed by the house proposes to repeal two laws enacted in 1870 and 1871 for appointment and wages of chowikars on the ground that the state government has made the chowkidars public servants by a decision taken in 1990.
The Assembly also passed the Bihar Agriculture University (Repeal) Act, 2016 after Agriculture minister Ram Vichal Rai moved the bill seeking repeal for the said law in view of the erstwhile Pusa-based Bihar Agriculture University being upgraded by the Centre as the Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University.
The State legislative Assembly further passed the Bihar State University (Amendment) Bill 2016 proposing to set up two universities, one each at Patna and Purnia, by carving out some colleges from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya and B.N. Mandal University at Madhepura.
This Bill was introduced by the State Education minister Ashok Chaudhary.
The Assembly also passed the Bihar Industrial Investment Promotion Bill, 2016 to clear decks for more investment for industrialization in the State through clearance from single window system.
Animal Husbandry and Fisherines Minister Awadesh Kumar Singh moved the Bihar Animal Science University Bill, 2016 for research on subjects related to animal science and invention of new techniques to optimally utilise animal husbandry resources for financial betterment of those people rearing cattle.