Finance Bill passed in Lok Sabha without debate

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P Chidambaram
New Delhi, April 30: The Lok Sabha Tuesday passed the Finance Bill for the 2013-14 fiscal with minor amendments but without a debate as the opposition parties walked out of the house protesting against Coalgate.

The bill was passed with 12 minor amendments. The most significant is related to wealth tax on farm land. As per the amended bill, no wealth tax will be imposed on farm land.

In the budget speech, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had proposed to impose 1 percent wealth tax on the value of farm land falling within an eight km radius of urban areas.

"There was apprehension that wealth tax was being imposed on agricultural land. Let me make it absolutely clear that the policy of the UPA government is not to impose wealth tax on agricultural land," Chidambaram said in the Lok Sabha before moving the bill for voting. The bill was passed by voice vote.

The passage of the bill effectively brought to an end the budgetary process that started with the budget speech by the finance minister Feb 28.

The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha for approval and finally to the president for his assent.

The upper house of parliament can recommend changes, but it cannot amend the bill, as it is a money bill.

Talking to reporters after the passage of the bill, Finance Minister Chidambaram said he would like to have a debate on the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

"I don't know if the Rajya Sabha will debate. But I would like a debate (on the Finance Bill) in the Rajya Sabha," Chidambaram said.

The Finance Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha without any debate for the first time in almost a decade.

Chidambaram pointed out that the Finance Bill for 2004-05 was also passed without a debate.

The bill was passed after a temporary truce reached between the government and the opposition at the business advisory committee called by the speaker. The BJP Monday agreed to allow the bill to be passed to avoid any constitutional crisis.

The Finance Bill, which provides government funds for executing its work through the year, has to be passed by both houses of parliament and signed by the president within 75 days of the Budget being presented.

The union budget was presented Feb 28, and the 75-day period ends May 14. After passage in Lok Sabha, the bill has to be passed in Rajya Sabha within 14 days, and after that it will be signed by the president.

IANS

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