New Delhi: The Budget Session 2017 of Parliament which commenced on Tuesday, 31 January, this year was adjourned sine die today (Wednesday, 12t April, 2017).
Ananthkumar, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Chemicals & fertilizer has underscored three main highlights of the Budget Session. He was addressing the media here.
The highlights of the Budget Session, according to the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs are:
- Preponing of the Union Budget and completion of all financial business of Government before the start of next financial year by 31 March;
- Passing of all the enabling acts of the Goods & Services Tax (GST);
- Presenting and passing of an Integrated Budget.
Ananthkumar gave credit to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley along with the participation of all members of both Houses of Parliament for constructive debates held on various issues.
Ananthkumar informed that this is for the first time in Indian legislative history that all financial business of Government has been completed before the start of next financial year and that too without any short cuts by following due process of general discussion, scrutiny by Standing Committees, and discussions on some individual Ministries. Whenever in the past financial business was completed before 31 March, those were either election years having interim budgets or in other cases scrutiny by Parliamentary Committees was dispensed with. This is a big financial reform so as to make full funds available to line Ministries for execution of their developmental projects. This is the first time when Vote on Account was dispensed with during the Budget session.
Speaking on the occasion S.S. Ahluwalia, Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Parliamentary Affairs, explained in detail about the advantages of preponing the Budget, merger of General and Railway Budgets, and how it will facilitate the efficient deployment of financial resources for carrying social development works.
Minister of State for Minority Affairs (IC) and Parliamentary Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi informed the media that the Government followed the policy of ‘Sampark, Samvaad, Samanvaya’ and ensured that all issues of wide public importance debated upon in depth by giving all members of both Houses a chance to present their views and derive a constructive consensus to move forward. He noted that 3 important bills namely, Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 for giving Constitutional status to the backward classes commission, Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016, could not be passed by both Houses. Naqvi said that the opposition to these bills was not on merit but still the Government respected the consensus in Rajya Sabha to refer them to the Select Committee. The Minister noted that the delay in passage of these socially important bills will prevent the common people to derive benefits for some more time.
Regarding the Legislative Business carried out during the Budget Session 2017, the media was informed that the first part of the Budget Session yielded a total of 7 sittings of Lok Sabha and 8 sittings of the Rajya Sabha. In the second part of the Session there were 22 sittings of Lok Sabha and 21 sittings of Rajya Sabha. During the entire Budget Session, 2017 there were in total 29 sittings each of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.The productivity of Lok Sabha was 113.27% and that of Rajya Sabha was 92.43%. Approximately 8 hours were lost in Lok Sabha and 18 hours in Rajya Sabha due to interruptions, which was made up by sitting late for approximately 19 hours and 7 hours respectively.
This being the first Session of the year, the President addressed both Houses of Parliament assembled together in terms of Article 87(1) of the Constitution, on 31st January, 2017 and informed the Parliament of the causes of its summons. Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address were moved, discussed and adopted by the two Houses during the first part of the Session. Both the Houses also adjourned for recess for a period of 27 days on Thursday, the 9th February, 2017 to reassemble on Monday, the 9th March, 2017 to enable the Departmentally related Standing Committees to examine the Demands for Grants relating to various Ministries/Departments.
During the first part of Session, the Union Budget for 2017-18 was presented on Wednesday, the 1 st February, 2017. This time Budget for Railways was also merged with General Budget. General Discussion on the Union Budget was held in both Houses.
During the second part of the Session, after scrutiny and presentation of reports by concerned Standing Committees, Demands for Grants under the control of the Ministries of (i) Railways; (ii) Home Affairs; (iii) Defence; and (iv) Agriculture were discussed and voted individually by the Lok Sabha. The Demands for Grants of the remaining Ministries/Departments which could not be discussed were put to the vote of the House and were voted in full on Monday, the 20th March, 2017. The related Appropriation Bill was also introduced, considered and passed and subsequently returned by the Rajya Sabha.
Appropriation Bill relating to Supplementary Demands for Grants was also introduced, considered and passed on the same day and subsequently returned by the Rajya Sabha. The Finance Bill, 2017 was passed by Lok Sabha on 22.03.2017 and Rajya Sabha returned it with recommendations on 29.03.2017. Lok Sabha rejected the recommendations made by Rajya Sabha in the Bill on 30.03.2017. The Finance Bill got the assent of the President on 31st March, 2017.
The Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2016-17 and Demands for Excess Grants for 2013-14 relating to Railways were also voted with connected Appropriation Bills by Lok Sabha which were subsequently returned by the Rajya Sabha. During this period, besides completion of General Discussion on Union Budget, the Rajya Sabha discussed the working of Ministry of Railways.
A major highlight of this Session, among others, is the passing of four historic Bills namely, the Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017 and the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 by both Houses of Parliament to enable implementation of Goods and Services Tax across the country w.e.f. 1st July, 2017.
During this Session a total of 24 Bills (24 in Lok Sabha) were introduced. 23 Bills were passed by Lok Sabha and 14 Bills by Rajya Sabha. Total number of Bills passed by both Houses of Parliament during the Session is 18. A list of Bills introduced in Lok Sabha, Bills passed by Lok Sabha, Bills passed by Rajya Sabha, Bills passed by both Houses of Parliament, Bill withdrawn is attached in Annexure.
Some important Social Sector Bills like the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the Mental Health Care Bill, 2017, and the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 were also passed by both Houses of Parliament in this Session.The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2017 was also passed by both Houses of Parliament.
In the Lok Sabha,one Short Duration Discussion under Rule 193 was held on Sustainable Development Goals which remained inconclusive. In the Rajya Sabha, two Short Duration Discussion under Rule 176, were held on i) Electoral Reforms and ii) Aadhaar -its implementation and implications. One Calling Attention motion on the need of convening a meeting of the National Development Council to discuss the necessity for continuance of the concept of Special Category Status, was also held in Rajya Sabha.
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