February 12, 2019
Saugata Roy speaks on The Finance Bill, 2019
Sir, I rise to speak on the Finance Bill, 2019 to continue the existing rates of icome tax for the financial year and to provide for certain relief to taxpayers.
Sir, I speak so with a heavy heart because Bengali labourers are being killed in Assam. Two labourers by the name of Shiekh Idrish and Mohammad Jouhar were killed in Assam’s Dumduma area on Saturday. I tried to raise it earlier but since the Deputy Speaker did not allow me, I’m mentioning this that the more you press with Citizenship Amendment Bill more attacks will take place on Bengali labourers. I strongly protest this.
Sir, I will not speak on the expenditure side today because I had an opportunity to make a speech yesterday. I’ve spoken on how Defence Budget of Rs 3 lakh crore is inadequate. I will not speak on how budget for inland water transport has been cut, civil Aviation has been cut, shipping has been cut. I shall not speak on how the allocation for MGNREGA has been cut by Rs 1000 crore to Rs 60,000 crore. I shall also not speak on how essential expenditure to be made by the Government of India has been cut.
I shall confine myself to the revenue proposals of the government. But may I point out, it seems that the Finance Ministry has been boycotted by its own ministers. The Finance Minister is not here, there are two Ministers-of-State, Shri Shiv Prakash Shukla and Shri Pon Radhakrishnan, I don’t see any of them. And the Ministers-of-State have revolted against the Finance Minister for not allowing them to speak. This is not a very healthy sign for a democracy.
Sir, just before I spoke there was a question on the ‘black money’. And as the Finance Minister informed us that there are three different reports on black money and quantum of black money. Black money is related to revenue because black money is generated by those who do not pay taxes, who evade taxes. As a result of which unaccounted money is generated.
But the Finance Ministry did send a report to the Chairman where we as members of the Finance Committee were not allowed to see the reports because the Finance Ministry and the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry strictly said that this is for the eyes of the Chairman only. We demand from the Ministry that all the reports of the committees by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, National Council of Applied Economic Research, come out.
The Government has been playing truant with the people of this country regarding black money. The Prime Minister’s first promise to the people of this country was that he would bring back all the black money that is held abroad. It is five years – he has not brought back any black money let alone deposit Rs 15 lakh in the accounts of all Indian citizens.
Then he went for the surgical strike – the cruel surgical strike called demonetisation, cancelling all Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes in one fell swoop. But when two years later, the Reserve Bank announced the figure of the money deposited in banks, it was found that the same amount of money, roughly Rs 15 lakh crore, which was cancelled has been deposited in the bank, which meant that the whole exercise which caused so much pain – 150 people died in bank queues, lakhs people thrown out of employment, small businesses closed down because of demonetisation – recovered no black money at all. This Government is a Government of jumla, they just believe in sloganeering and are not capable of fulfilling their promises to the nation.
That is why I say that there is nothing wrong in the Finance Bill because is brought under Rule 218 of the Rules of Procedure. It presents the financial proposal of the Government. Now this is a lame duck Government almost – in one month it will become fully lame duck. So it will last barely two months into the next financial year. So it has no right to bring new tax proposals. As a result of which the Finance Minister has not increased any tax rates, which is understandable. The Government does not have either the moral or the constitutional or the financial authority to impose new rates of taxes. But he has offered sops to certain populaces, especially the aggrieved section of the population, namely, the salaried middle class. He has raised the income tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh. I have no reason to dispute.
But the point is, if he had to offer sops, he should have waited for the next Government to form, and not give them in a hurry in order to shop for votes. He has brought this sop to do shopping – shopping for votes – for which he did not have either the constitutional or the moral or the financial authority.
Now let me say something about some of these proposals. What are the amendments that he suggests? One is 16(1)(a) – standard deduction has been raised from Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000. Next is Amendment to Section 23(4) where it says that notional income from two self-occupied properties will now be taken to be nil. So now if people have two houses, the notional income from two self-occupied properties will be zero, which means the owners will be exempt. The Bill states that “considering the necessity that middle class families need to maintain families at two places for children’s education, etc., I am proposing to exempt a levy of income tax on notional rent on a second-self-occupied house. I do not take any exemption to that also. Then there is Amendment in Section 23(5) – which is of a technical nature – regarding property.” Then there is Amendment to Section 24 which says the interest on capital borrowed for acquisition of two self-occupied house properties shall now, instead of one earlier, be admissible as deductions subject to the existing overall ceiling of Rs 2 lakh per annum.
Then he amends Section 54(1)(ii), inserts the new provision again regarding presently an assessee being an individual or Hindu Undivided Family entitled to claim deduction as regards long term capital gain rising out of transfer residential house property.Provided this is for one residential house property.
Now two residential properties, you will get exemption provided the overall long term capital gains do not exceed Rs 2 crore. Similarly, TDS on income in Section 194(A)… TDS on income paid/credited in the nature of interest from banks/deposited in post offices up to Rs 40,000 is not deductible. So these are some sops to the middle class, they are not major concessions.
Now this Finance Bill also talks about the Stamp Act. Previously if you exchange chairs you had to pay stamp tax, stamp duty individually. Now the stamp duty will have to be paid by the stock exchange or by the depositors. The other thing is that earlier, the PMLA was allowed to attach properties 90 days, now the PMLA is allowed to attach property for 365 days.
Sir, I last want to end by saying that this government is the government of tax terrorists and PMLA and the enforcement departments are Mr Modi’s main hand. Those opponents he does not dare to face politically, he is using, rather unleashing the dogs of war that of the enforcement department on them. There has been so many governments since independence, I have never seen a government which has used the CBI and the enforcement department as wantonly. Now as Mr Moily said yesterday if there was a Lokpal – in five years this government has not setup a Lokpal – Mr Modi will be the first accused on the issue of purchase 36 Rafale aircrafts for the price of 59 thousand crores .
This Finance Bill has no controversial issue, I do not oppose the Bill, normally amendments are not moved in a Finance Bill because the government has to get revenue so they have brought their Finance Bill, I do not object to that but this Government has lost all its moral authority; it is hanging by a thread.