Parliament’s budget session from February 23 (Roundup)

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) The budget session of Parliament will begin on February 23 with President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The General Budget will be presented on February 29, the government said on Thursday.

The Rail Budget will be presented on February 25 and the economic survey report released the next day, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA).

The meeting was attended by union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitely, Najma Heptullah, Ramvilas Paswan, Smriti Irani and minister of state Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

The budget session’s first phase will continue till March 16, followed by a recess for 39 days, Naidu said. The session will resume on April 25 and conclude on May 13, he added.

The budget session will have 31 sittings spread over 81 days.

“The budget session this year will run its full course with recess in between, unlike in 2011 when the recess was done away with on account of assembly elections in five states that are going to polls this year also,” a parliamentary affairs ministry statement said.

Before the CCPA meeting, Naidu, Rajnath Singh and Naqvi consulted leaders of different parties to seek their views on scheduling the budget session, keeping in view the forthcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Deepender Hooda, Samajwadi party leader Ramgopal Yadav, Janata Dal-United leaders Sharad Yadav and K.C. Tyagi, Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Ambeth Rajan, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien and All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam leader Dr Venugopal participated in the consultations.

Naidu said the government favoured a normal and full-length session with sufficient recess in between to enable the working of standing committees and added that the dates could be adjusted based on the suggestions from different parties.

Ratification of an ordinance relating to President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh and passing of a bill with respect to an ordinance regarding enemy properties will be taken up on priority during the session.

As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed the hope that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will become a reality soon, it remains to be seen whether the bill will finally secure parliamentary approval during this budget session.

Despite several efforts by the government, the GST Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session last year due to the Congress opposition.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh last year to break the logjam.

The Congress demands include a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision that allows imposition of one percent additional levy and an independent dispute resolution mechanism.

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