GST debate over money versus financial Bills

By | August 9, 2016

The Aadhaar Bill had done so. Now, the yet- to- be- framed Bills on a national goods and services tax (GST) have stirred a debate, over money Bills versus financial Bills. In a debate on the constitutional amendment in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, the Congress party wanted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to commit that the subsequent GST legislations would be tabled as financial Bills and not as money Bills. He was noncommittal, on the ground that these were yet to be prepared. The Rajya Sabha has no power to amend a money Bill and the ruling coalition does not have a majority in there. The Congress argued no constitutional provision made it mandatory for a finance minister to bring a Bill as a money Bill. A day after, Jaitley had told apress conference the Constitutional provisions in Articles 110 and 117 on the two terms were clear. “ The word used in Article 110 is ‘ shall be,’ that is what shall be deemed to be a money Bill. I can’t convert a constitutional requirement into my own option,” he had said. Meaning, certain Bills have to be brought in Parliament as money Bills. Article 110 (1) defines a money Bill. A Bill, it says, shall be so deemed if it deals only with revenue raising and expenditure at the central or state levels or results in money going into or withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund of India. A Bill that contains some provisions related to taxation and expenditure and additionally has those related to any other matter is called a Financial Bill. Constitution expert Subhash C Kashyap said the current debate is like putting the cart before the horse, as the GST Bills are yet to be framed. Though the government has come out with a draft model GST Bill, the GST Council which would give recommendations on these is yet to be set up. It would come up only after at least half the states ratify the Constitutional amendment and President Pranab Mukherjee gives his assent. Kashyap said bills having revenue raising measures and expenditure have to come as a money Bill. The simplest example is the Union Budget, called an annual fiancial statement in constitutional language. It has to be brought as a money Bill. As the Rajya Sabha does not have power to change a money Bill, Kashyap said the debate was more political in nature. Constitution expert Yogendra Narain said it was for the Lok Sabha speaker and her secretariat to decide whether a Bill is a money Bill or not, non else. Article 110 (3) of the Constitution makes this clear. –[08-08-2016]

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