Black money, GST bill hope

New Delhi, April 27: The Centre is confident about passing the bills on a goods and services tax and black money this budget session though the land acquisition bill’s fate remains uncertain.

The government is most hopeful about the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015, or the “black money bill”, because of a constitutional provision that would classify it as a money bill.

The Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks the numbers, cannot block a money bill if the Lok Sabha, where the NDA has a majority, passes it.

Article 110 says a bill shall be deemed a money bill if it legislates the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of a tax.

The bill says that every income-tax assessee will be annually charged a 30 per cent tax on their total undisclosed foreign income and assets.

Parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu today said the GST and black money bills would be taken up after April 30.

Government sources alleged that MPs from parties “other than the BJP” were plotting to thwart the black money bill by suggesting a referral to a select committee.

Critics allege the bill vests the taxman with “unbridled” powers to “harass” assessees. They have been told the bill has enough “safeguards” and they are free to air their objections in the House.

“Given the bill’s political ramifications and association with black money stashed abroad, I doubt any of them will speak against it in Parliament,” a source said.

Recovering black money from foreign banks was a major BJP poll plank. But contradictory claims from ministers on whether the defaulters’ names would be revealed led to disquiet within the Sangh-BJP about the government’s intentions.

The Centre wants to pass the bill quickly to “clear the fog” and “prove its commitment”, a source said.

Naidu said the passage of the Constitution 115th Amendment Bill, 2011, providing for a GST, topped the government’s legislative agenda. It will require two-thirds majorities in both Houses.

When the government introduced the bill last Friday, the Congress and the AIADMK – an otherwise NDA-friendly party – demanded a referral to a standing committee because of the changes made by the current government.

“We are hopeful of passing it,” junior finance minister Jayant Sinha said.

The AIADMK contends that since its home state Tamil Nadu is a manufacturing hub, it will lose out under a GST regime of uniform taxes nationwide. The Centre’s counter has been that the bill makes it clear that Parliament and state legislatures may both frame laws on GST without providing for parliamentary supremacy.

As for the land bill, a large section of the BJP had counselled against pressing ahead with it after the recent “suicide” of a Rajasthan farmer in Delhi. But Naidu has been adamant that there’s “no connection” between the bill and the death.

Source: The Telegraph India

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