In LS, opposition conditions ₹1,000 cr. package for tea industry Jumla, minister hits back


OROP, Extension of GST Compensation for States and Alleged Abuse of Central Authorities Charged During Zero Hour

OROP, Extension of GST Compensation for States and Alleged Abuse of Central Authorities Charged During Zero Hour

The Lok Sabha saw sharp clashes on Wednesday between opposition members and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Anupriya Patel after Congress’ Gaurav Gogoi dismissed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s promise of a £1,000 billion package for Assam and West Bengal’s tea industries as ‘jumla’ or a gimmick.

When Mr Gogoi said during Question Time that not a dime of the amount announced by Mrs Sitharaman in last year’s budget had been spent, Mrs Patel said: “This is not a ‘Jumla’ at all. There has been a lot of thought and planning on the part of the government… We aim to pass on all benefits to the intended beneficiaries with due diligence and in a systematic manner.”

Although the Tea Board drafted the program by Prime Minister Chai Shramik Protsahan, there was an opinion that any welfare programs related to education, health or other facilities were already provided through various ministries’ programs, she said.

“Another opinion came that we could build capital infrastructure like anganwadi centers, hospitals, ayush and wellness centers and schools,” she said.

One Rank One Pension (OROP), GST pay extension and alleged abuses by central authorities against political rivals were the other prominent issues that emerged during zero hour.

OROP problem

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury addressed the OROP issue, saying the government had failed to do justice to retired military personnel by opposing a lawsuit by the ex-soldiers’ association in the Supreme Court.

With Congress President Sonia Gandhi at his side, Mr Chowdhury said the previous Congress-led UPA government promised on February 17, 2014 to implement OROP in accordance with the recommendations of the Bhagat Singh Koshyari Committee.

“The current government believes in redeeming its courage for electoral politics, but when it comes to giving back, it forgets about it,” he claimed.

Recently, in the Supreme Court, the government opposed the ex-soldiers’ association, which had sought to implement OROP with an automatic annual review (as recommended by the committee) instead of the current five-year periodic review policy.

GST offset

Kathir Anand, a member of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, raised the issue of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rebate for the states and demanded that the center extend it by a few years. Under the GST Act, states were guaranteed bimonthly compensation for lost revenue for the first five years of GST implementation starting July 1, 2017. Tamil Nadu would suffer a revenue loss of about 20,000 crore if the compensation is not extended beyond five years, he said.

Sougata Roy of the Trinamool Congress raised the issue of the “use” of the CBI and Enforcement Directorate against non-BJP governed states, prompting heated arguments between TMC members and Treasury Banks. When BJP members protested, Mr Roy used a term that Speaker Om Birla had asked him not to use and adjourned the House for lunch.

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