Free Press Journal

Bill to levy 50% or 85% on black money passed


New Delhi : Amid chaos and the Opposition’s slogans to stop “50:50 deal with black money hoarders,” the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a major Taxation Law (second amendment) Bill without a debate after an unprecedented rejection of amendments by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on the ground of not getting the required President’s approval and citing urgency to pass the post-demonatisation law to impose tax on deposits made in scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Kerala’s lone Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP N K Premchandran, whose amendments were disallowed, said if the Bill is passed without debate, rejecting amendments, it is an end of democracy and parliamentary system as then even the Constitution can be amended or suspended in the same fashion. Demonetisation failed to unearth black money and so this deal with the “black money wallas,” he said.

The Bill gives the depositors a choice to admit voluntarily the black money so deposited and pay 50% as tax and penalty or lose 85% of the unexplained cash not admitted. Those volunteering will be able to use only 25% of the money while putting the rest 25% locked up for four year in the new Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit for the poor.

Since the bills were brought as a money bill, it will not encounter the challenge of a passage in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority. It will now go to the Rajya Sabha and then to the President. The Rajya Sabha cannot amend a money bill but it can make recommendations to the Lok Sabha that are not binding.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who pushed for the Bill on Monday despite pandemonium, asserted that it will plug the loopholes in the existing acts to ensure that tax evaders are not able to legalise their black money. “The aim is to ensure this money comes into the mainstream. The rich’s black money will be used for the welfare of the poor,” he declared.

The Opposition was up in arms, protesting that this is another scam of the government’s compromise to leave half of the black money with the crooks, who won’t mind sharing half of their ill-gotten wealth with the government. As one of the MPs shouting in the well, a culprit selling property in Rs 40 lakhs by cheque and another Rs 20 lakh in cash won’t mind losing Rs 10 lakh and pocket another Rs 10 lakh as black money.

The Speaker rejected the demand by the opposition parties, including the Congress, the TMC and the BJD, that the bill should be taken up at a time when the proceedings of the House were in order. The House was adjourned thrice during the pre-lunch session because of the pandemonium for debate on the demonetisation in the presence of the PM. However, the Speaker went ahead with the Bill despite the noisy scenes, citing its urgency because of which it cannot be postponed.

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