On the day Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said he would soon spell out the government’s final decision on the budget proposal to tax 60 per cent of Employee Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal, the Congress and the CPM said they planned to move amendments in Lok Sabha opposing the proposal.
The Trinamool Congress too opposed the proposal and told the government that the move should be withdrawn in totality without getting into technicalities.
“Yes our members will move (amendments). This is insensitive on the part of the government to tax provident fund savings,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said when asked whether the Congress would challenge the move.
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CPM’s Mohammad Salim said his party too will move amendments. “Of course, we will move amendments,” he said. Sources said the parties were exploring the possibility of moving cut motions.
“Provident fund is the last asset of retired people, it is best to give them full relief without getting into this 60 per cent, 40 per cent split or this thing about the interest being taxable, not the principal. Many times this is the money that funds a daughter’s wedding. This should be withdrawn in totality without getting into the technicalities…Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not believe in rollbacks but in this case he is under pressure from his own party to withdraw it,” leader of Trinamool Congress in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandopadhyay, said.
He also raised the matter in the House, after which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley intervened and said he will clear these issues when he replies to the Budget discussion.
While Jaitley’s proposal has come under attack from both political parties and trade unions, the government has so far stuck to its position that there would be no complete rollback.
Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the government is in discussion with stakeholders and is considering all options. “We are discussing with all stakeholders… We are in touch with the Ministry of Finance. Government will also consider these issues,” he told Rajya Sabha Wednesday.
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The minister was countered by CPM’s Tapan Sen, who is also general secretary of the CITU.
“I represent one of the important constituents of stakeholders and I have personally attended all the stakeholders’ meetings. At no point of time did the stakeholders ever agree to taxing withdrawal from the provident fund, because it is not an income; it is an apportionment of the income earned for which they have already paid tax. So, please don’t point a gun at the stakeholders. With this budget proposal, you are doing an offence to the working people,” he said.