New Delhi: Lok Sabha members, including those from the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), on Wednesday attacked the central government for alleged lapses in its economic policy.
Shiv Sena, the oldest ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), raked up the issue of provident fund withdrawal, much to the embarrassment of the treasury benches.
Initiating the debate on the Finance Bill 2016, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily said that the government needed to take “reform measures”.
“I think the time has come that the nation wants a full-time finance minister and not a multi-tasking one,” Moily said with reference to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who often takes up key works in the BJP, besides handling the information and broadcasting ministry.
Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) flayed the government’s move to “ask people not to withdraw money from provident fixed deposits” while Abhijeet Mukherjee of the Congress said the government was often in a rollback mode vis-a-vis policies on financial matters and the provident fund.
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha made a brief intervention, saying the provident fund investments were exempt from tax at the time of investment, on interest earned and also on the maturity.
Countering the Sena member, Sinha said that the fixed deposit amount is subject to tax deduction at source at the time of maturity.
Investing in provident fund is thus “more advantageous”, Sinha said.
Nishikant Dubey (BJP), Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress), B. Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal) and P.D. Rai (Sikkim Democratic Front) were among those who participated in the discussions.
Moily charged the Modi government with trying to demolish people-oriented programmes and countered the government argument that the earlier United Progressive Alliance dispensation left a bad legacy.
On black money, Moily said the disclosures and gross tax collections had come down.
Dubey countered Moily and argued: “Yes, we have got a bad legacy. We got the 2G (scam), Coalgate, CWG (Commonwealth Games) and corruption as a legacy.”
He said several limitations in the government’s economic roadmap are largely due to the legacy left by the Congress.
Amid protests from Congress members, including Kharge, Dubey kept on asking them: “What have you done?”
He said the Modi government’s economic policy provided relief to taxpayers and also promoted growth and generate employment. He also praised initiatives like ‘Make in India’.
Roy raised the issue of jewellers strike across the country and said the government cannot run the economy with “rigidity”.
Rich farmers should be brought under the tax net to widen the tax base, he said. B. Mahtab also echoed the demand.
“Does it make any sense to provide support to the big farmers? Not taxing agricultural produce of the farmers is one thing but not taxing the companies earning thousands of crores of rupees?” Mahtab asked.
Jaydev Galla of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), another NDA constituent, said the Centre should declare Andhra Pradesh as a special category state at the earliest.
The government reply to the Finance Bill debate is likely to come on Thursday afternoon.