Policy

Govt defends PM CARES Fund; also denies charge it’s blocking State funds

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 18, 2020 Published on September 18, 2020

Nirmala Sitharaman

FM introduces Bill to amend taxation laws

The government continued to defend the PM CARES Fund even as it sparked off a verbal duel between the treasury benches and the Opposition on Friday in Parliament.

The issue flared up up during the introduction of ‘The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020’ in the Lok Sabha. The Bill will replace an ordinance promulgated on March 31 to provide for extension of various time limits under the Taxation and Benami Acts and to provide tax benefit for PM CARES Fund. It also provides for extension of time limits contained in the Rules or Notification which are prescribed/ issued under these Acts.

 

Although the Opposition has consistently opposed the PM CARES Fund, what triggered the storm on Friday was one specific provision which says “donation made to the PM CARES Fund shall be eligible for 100 per cent deduction under section 80G of the IT Act”.

The related provision that limits the deduction to 10 per cent of gross income shall also be not applicable for donation made to PM CARES Fund.

PM CARES (Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund has been set up for providing relief to the people affected by the outbreak of coronavirus. It intends to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the Fund and the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Home Affairs and Mthe inister of Finance are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

The Congress, the CPI (M) and the TMC have opposed the introduction of Bill by raising issues related to amendment of the GST Act, Vivad se Viswas scheme and tax incentive for PM CARES Fund. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried to clarify issues related to the GST and Viavad se Viswas Scheme and then asked her deputy Anurag Singh Thakur to talk about PM CARES Fund.

Thakur started by challenging the Opposition to come prepared with logical arguments against the PM CARES Fund. Amidst all these, Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House for half an hour. Even after half an hour, the proceeding were disturbed, forcing the presiding officer to repeatedly adjourn the House.

Other tax provisions

Countering Opposition’s allegation regarding changes in CGST Act to give relief on filing return or payment of tax, Sitharaman said that Centre is doing so based on its jurisdiction. Denying the allegation of the Centre blocking funds for States, she made it clear that since the PM was a CM once, he understands the problem of not getting enough funds. In fact, he has advised for timely release of funds.

On issues related to Vivad se Viswas Scheme, Sitharaman reiterated that this is not an amnesty scheme. “It does not extend benefit to any dishonest taxpayers,” she said while clarifying that the scheme intends to provide a dispute resolution mechanism.

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Published on September 18, 2020
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