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Parliament passes Finance Bill 2017 after Lok Sabha rejects 5 amendments

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Parliament has passed the Finance Bill 2017 after the Lok Sabha rejected all five amendments moved to it by the Rajya Sabha. The bill seeks to give effect to the financial proposals of the Central Government for the financial year 2017-18.

The amendments of the Upper House included curbing more powers to tax officials and a cap on donation by companies to political parties.Replying to the debate on the amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jailtey said,the amendments cannot be accepted by the government saying there is no logic behind them.

He ,however, invited suggestions from political parties, including the Congress and the BJD, to make electoral funding more clean and transparent. Mr Jaitley said most of the donations that come to the political parties now are from unclean sources with complete non- transparency.

Defending the budget proposals relating to clean political funding, he said it is not possible for the Government to accept the amendment as it would limit the number of donors to political parties. He said, to bring transparency in the political funding, the government has made the provisions of issuing electoral bonds and capping the limit of cash donation to two thousand rupees instead of 20 thousand rupees earlier. He said, political parties can also receive donation through online mode and by cheques.

With regard to the taxation amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha, Mr jailtey said the current position related to search of undisclosed money will continue and the government as a matter of abundant caution and to protect whistle-blowers, the bill has specified that the satisfaction note will not be given to the target of investigation. He said, since 1961, there is no precedent when the target of investigation was revealed the note which formed the basis of investigation with regard to tax evasion. Mr Jaitley said, such information can only be given to the courts.

Earlier, initiating a discussion on the Rajya Sabha’s amendments, Dipendra Hooda of Congress supported them. He questioned the government for proposing 40 amendments in different laws through the Finance Bill. He demanded separate law for political funding. BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab demanded transparency in funding to the political parties. Saugata Roy of TMC also supported the amendments.

Badaruddoza Khan of CPI(M) and A. P. Jithender Reddy of TRS demanded complete ban on corporate funding to the political parties.

Yesterday, the Rajya Sabha had returned the Finance Bill 2017 to the Lok Sabha with five amendments moved by the opposition. Of the five amendments, three were moved by Digvijay Singh of Congress and two by Sitaram Yechury of CPI-M.

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