Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill 2021
Lok Sabha on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, passed the Finance Bill 2021, which give effect to the financial proposals of the Central Government for the year 2021-22.
Replying to the discussion on the Bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government is committed to simplify the taxation compliance procedures. She also said, the government is taking all measures to widen the tax base in the country. Adding to it, she said, rationalization in the taxation system would encourage Ease of Doing Business in the country.
Responding to comments made by the members on the issues related to GST, Ms. Sitharaman said that the Centre alone has no role in deciding the changes in the GST structure. She added that the GST council collectively decides on the tax structure after detailed deliberations on the proposals.
On the issue of bringing petrol and diesel under the GST ambit, the Minister said, the States can bring this issue before the GST council for discussion. Referring to existing taxes levied on petrol and diesel, she said, Centre is sharing 41 per cent with the States from devolvable taxes.
On the decision of levying Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC), she clarified that the collected revenue will go to the States for creating a robust agriculture infrastructure in the country. She rejected the opposition's claim that budgetary allocations have been reduced for Minority Affairs and Agriculture.
Earlier, initiating the discussion, Dr. Amar Singh of Congress said that the government is trying to blame the Covid-19 pandemic for the poor economic performance. He said, the country's economy is going down since the first quarter of 2018-19. He said, revenue collection is witnessing a declining trend and the Central Government has increased excise duties, cess and surcharges on various items which are affecting the common people. He said that the Central government is not releasing the GST compensation to the States which are impacting the implementation of several welfare schemes.
Rajendra Aggarwal of BJP said that the government has taken a series of measures for the welfare of poor people, farmers, workers and soldiers under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said, the country is heading towards becoming self-reliant in every sector due to steps taken by the government. He said, Rs 21 lakh crore package have been given during the Covid-19 pandemic to boost the economy and provide relief to the people.
P V Midhun Reddy of YSRCP requested the Central government to help the States to bring the economy back on track. He opposed the privatization process of the Vishakapatnam Steel plant requesting that the process must be stopped.
Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena raised the issue of farmer protest at Delhi's border saying that the government is imposing indirect taxes on farmers by increasing the price of petrol and diesel. Supriya Sule of NCP said that the Central government is collecting revenue from several cess which are not going to be shared with the States.
She asked the justification and rationale for the imposition of several cess and printing of money which is putting inflationary pressure on the common people.
She also demanded that pending GST compensation must be released to the State governments at the earliest.
Echoing the same view, Nama Nageshwar Rao of TRS also demanded for the release of GST compensation to the States. Ritesh Pandey of BSP raised the issue of disinvestment of Public Sector Units saying that this move is not in the interest of the country.
He also raised the issue of price rise of petrol and diesel stating that the central government is collecting 48 per cent tax on the sale of every litre of petrol and diesel. Sunil Kumar of JD(U) appreciated this year's Budget saying that no new tax on the people has been imposed.
He urged the government to make changes in the GST mechanism by providing an option for revising the return. Some other members also spoke on the Bill.