‘Direct Taxes Code unlikely to be introduced next year'

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Mr Yashwant Sinha, Chairman of Standing Committee on Finance and senior BJP leader.

We will support Lokpal Bill only if our amendments are accepted: Yashwant Sinha

The Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance and senior BJP leader, Mr Yashwant Sinha, feels that the committee he heads cannot be blamed for the delay on major economic reforms. In an exclusive interview, he says he hopes to submit the report on Direct Taxes code in January but feels that the new code will miss the deadline of April 1, 2012. Excerpts:

Why the delay in the Pension Bill?

This is the second time the Government has acted in a peculiar fashion. Last time in 2005, we had offered our support on the PFRDA Bill and the Government could not take advantage of our support because they were worried about the Left parties. This time again, there were discussions and then they accepted our amendments. We agreed to support the Bill, but the Bill has now been stopped by their own ally, Ms Mamata Banerjee. Therefore, I can't help coming to the conclusion that the Government's commitment on economic reform is not only stinted, it depends on their convenience. When it suits them, they become reformist, whenever it does not suit them, they become anti-reform. This is what they did in UPA I; this is what they are doing in UPA II.

Is there any way out on the Pension Bill?

This is up to the Government to find out. It is not the job of the Opposition. We had suggested a way out, but they did not accept it.

What about the Banking and Insurance Bill?

The ball is in the Government's court. They have to come back to Parliament with whatever their thoughts are and then we would see. We have given our recommendations.

And the status of the report on the new Direct Taxes Code (DTC)?

We must not forget that this is a huge Bill and we have worked very hard on it. We are very close to finalising the report. I am hoping that sometime in January, we will be able to finalise the report and according to the rules, it will be submitted, if permitted, to the Speaker. Once we submit the report to the Speaker, then it is as good as tabled in Parliament.

How can DTC be taken forward?

It is up to the Government. I can't answer on their behalf. To give you an example: the Companies Bill, which is again a huge Bill, we had given our report in August last year. But it is only in December this year that they were able to bring it to Parliament for consideration and passing. It took 16 months to get the Bill into Parliament. So, how can I take guarantee for the Government?

Can DTC be introduced from April 1, 2012?

To me, with all my experience as a finance minister, it is highly unlikely that the new code will be introduced next year. Even if I had given the report during the monsoon session, it would not have been possible to implement the new code from next year. A very high number of notifications have to be issued, it will take time.

What are the reasons for the delay on the Companies Bill?

We have raised our objections and requested it to be referred to the standing committee. Now the Speaker has to take a call on referring the Bill. We have made this request after reading the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill. It says, “Subsequent to the introduction of the Companies Bill, 2009 in the Lok Sabha, the Central Government received several suggestions for amendments to the said Bill. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance also made numerous recommendations in its report. The Central Government has accepted in general the recommendations of the Standing Committee and also considered the suggestions received by it from various stakeholders.”

We feel, if you consider and include suggestions from various other stakeholders after the Standing committee gives its report, then it almost becomes a new Bill. That is why we have requested to refer the Bill back to the Standing Committee. We hope it will be done.

What is the BJP's stand on the Lokpal Bill?

We have some very serious issues with the draft. We will move our amendments to correct these for a strong Lokpal. We objected because you can't move the amendment on the basis of a corrigendum. You can't deliberately pass a weak constitutional Bill and hope that it will be set aside by the judiciary. The intention of the Government is suspicious. We will support the Bill with our riders. We will support only if our amendments are accepted.

Published on December 26, 2011

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