The Finance Minister replied to the general discussion on Budget 2021 in Rajya Sabha today. In her reply, she explained the rationale for bringing allocation for water and sanitation under the fold of the health spending. The Minister quoted the World Health Organization’s observation on safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene being crucial for good health.
On defence, she clarified the reduced expenditure on pensions was on account of OROP-related arrears resolved in the previous year.
Following the Minister's response, the House adjourned for recess for three weeks. Before adjourning, Rajya Sabha Chairman Mr. Naidu noted that 100 Members participated in the two debates and only 30 minutes had been lost to disruptions in the first half of the Budget Session.
During recess, the Standing Committees will examine the expenditure proposals of the Ministries and submit their reports. The second half of the session will resume in March when Lok Sabha will select a few Ministries for detailed scrutiny and pass the Budget.
In Lok Sabha, the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was taken up for consideration and subsequently passed. The Bill allows for an unconditional stay on the arbitral award if the court is satisfied that the arbitration involved fraud or corruption. A Member speaking on the Bill noted that the amendment to allow automatic stay of arbitral awards in certain cases would add three additional steps after an arbitration award was given. This would reduce the confidence of international contracting parties to enter into contracts where India is the seat of arbitration. Replying to the debate, the Law Minister said that the requirement for prima facie satisfaction of the Court provides an adequate safeguard against false allegations.
Proceedings in Lok Sabha were ongoing at the time of uploading this note. The House is scheduled to meet tomorrow at 10AM.
Numbers to note
During Question Hour, the Railways Minister informed Rajya Sabha that the last passenger death because of a railway accident happened on 22nd March 2019.
"For the last nearly 22 months, we have not had a single passenger death due to train accidents".