Economy

Budget session: Short, bitter and nasty

Aditi Nigam New Delhi | Updated on March 27, 2011

BL28_PARLIAMENT1

In a democracy, the ballot will always remain more important than the wallet.

So, the Budget session, which ended on March 25, was the shortest in the past two decades.

Reason: MPs had to go and campaign for their parties in the Assembly elections in five States.

Result: When the session began, there were 78 Bills pending before the government. When it ended, the number stood at 81.

Held amid the season of scams, the House saw a lot of acrimony and interruptions and, of course, sher-o-shayari in jugalbandi style. The WikiLeaks exposure by The Hindu, the appointment of Mr P.J. Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the 2G scam, Hasan Ali's black money trail, a magazine report on payment of “cash for votes” overshadowed business.

Net result -- business took a hit. A good 81 per cent of the budgetary demands for grants were not even discussed.

According to PRS Legislative Research, an independent research initiative, which keeps track of the functioning of Parliament, of the 34 planned Bills, only nine were introduced. And of the 33 Bills scheduled for passage, only five were passed, along with the Finance Bill, (excluding the Appropriation Bills).

Two Bills were listed to be withdrawn, including the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2008 and on labour law reforms, 2005. Of these, the latter was withdrawn and then re-introduced with changes

Interestingly, the two Bills that were not listed for introduction were tabled — The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, 2011 and the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill, 2011.

On the productivity meter, only 6 per cent of time in the Rajya Sabha and 12 per cent in the Lok Sabha were spent on legislation.

Through the years, the Budget session has been considered the most important one as it sets the policy tone for the rest the year. The presentation of the Economic Survey, Union Budget and Railway Budget proposals create the ground for much debate and discussion on matters of national importance. However, of late, scam after scam has been casting a shadow over all this.

Published on March 27, 2011

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