Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha saw an extensive debate on this year’s Budget. Members from the two Houses raised a range of arguments. Members speaking in support of the Budget said that the government has rightly emphasized on capital expenditure which would lead to job growth. Another Member added that the durable impact of enhanced public investment is much stronger than large public expenditure by the government.
A Member welcomed the various initiatives announced towards climate change in the Budget, but asked the allocation for the Environment Ministry to be increased, arguing that 0.012% of the GDP was too low.
Members in the Opposition asked the government to consider sector-wise relief to deal with unemployment. Another Member asked the GST rate of 18% on health insurance premiums to be reduced to encourage penetration of health insurance in the country. One Member said tax breaks to industries would not help with wealth creation and suggested that the government increase its R&D allocation instead.
During Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, a Member suggested an amendment to the House Rules to make recommendations of Committees as binding on the government. Raising the issue of increasing the retirement age of judges, the Member said that several committees had made such a recommendation but the government has not deliberated on it. Rule 277 of Rajya Sabha's Rules of Procedure (and 331N in Lok Sabha) states that Committee recommendations will have a persuasive value.
Later, in response to a question in Lok Sabha, the Industry and Commerce Minister provided an update on the progress of the Open Network for Digital Commerce. It is aimed to increase participation of small retailers in e-commerce. Comparing it with UPI, the Minister said that it goes beyond the current model of digital commerce where the buyer and seller have to be on the same platform to do a business transaction. He did not specify a timeline for its rollout on the floor of the House.
Proceedings in Lok Sabha were ongoing at the time of uploading this post.
Numbers to note
₹ 26,623 Crore