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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Parliament Session Day 8: Centre hikes MSP for wheat; eight Rajya Sabha MPs suspended

Here are the top developments of Parliament proceedings on Day 8.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 22, 2020 1:42:26 am
Past governments have taken the short cut of not referring bills to standing committees. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed bills amending the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act even as Rajya Sabha saw stormy scenes after eight Opposition MLAs were suspended for the rest of the monsoon session over their “unruly” conduct in the Upper House when the contentious farm bills were passed.

The Lok Sabha also passed the The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 before it was adjourned post midnight.

Even as protests raged on in Haryana, Punjab and other states over the farm bills, the government hiked the minimum price for buying wheat and five other rabi crops by up to six per cent — sending a strong message to farmers across the country on continuation of minimum support price (MSP)-based procurement system.

Farmer groups are also protesting the two bills — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, which have been passed by Parliament.

Top developments of Parliament proceedings on Day 8

Suspended MPs sit in dharna near the Gandhi statue in Lok Sabha.

Eight MPs suspended over unruly behaviour

Eight opposition MPs were suspended from attending proceedings of the current monsoon session any further for their “unruly behaviour” during the passage of the farm bills yesterday. With the eight members — Derek O Brien, Sanjay Singh, Rajiv Satav, KK Ragesh, Ripun Bora, Dola Sen, Syed Nazir Hussain and Elamaran Kareem — refusing to leave, the government said that the House cannot function unless the suspended Parliamentarians were removed.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also rejected the no-confidence motion against his deputy, Harivansh, on the grounds that proper procedure was not followed and that a 14-day notice was required to do the same.

While Satav, Hussain and Bora belonged to the Congress, O’Brien and Sen are from the Trinamool Congress. Singh is from Aam Aadmi Party, and Kareem and Ragesh belonged to the CPM.

Strongly condemning Sunday’s incident, Naidu told the House: “I was deeply pained by what happened yesterday. All social distancing and Covid protocols were violated. Whatever happened, defied logic. It was a bad day for the Rajya Sabha. The deputy chairman was physically threatened. I was worried for his physical well-being.” “You have no right to obstruct the chair and the business in the House. It tarnishes the image of the House. Is it a Parliamentary standard? I suggest the members to do some introspection. If the marshals were not called on time, what would have happened?” he added.

Centre hikes support prices for wheat, five other rabi crops

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the MSP (Minimum Support Price) of wheat, the biggest crop of rabi season, has been hiked by Rs 50 to Rs 1,975 per quintal. Besides, MSPs of lentil (masoor), gram, barley, safflower and mustard/rapeseed have been increased.

Tomar said the MSPs of six rabi crops were approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, a move aimed at encouraging farmers ahead of the sowing operations of winter crops.

Announcing the increased MSPs for the six rabi crops for 2020-21 crop year (July-June) and 2021-22 marketing season, Tomar said MSP of gram has been increased by Rs 225 to Rs 5,100 per quintal. The MSP of barley has been hiked by Rs 75 to Rs 1,600 per quintal. Lentil MSP has been hiked by Rs 300 to Rs 5,100 per quintal. The MSP of mustard/ rapeseed have been raised by Rs 225 to Rs 4,650 per quintal, while that of safflower has been hiked by Rs 112 to Rs 5,327 per quintal.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday. (Photo: LSTV/PTI)

Cong says IBC amendments to ‘patronise’ preferred corporates; BJP blames UPA for bank NPA

Lok Sabha on Monday passed The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill whereby fresh insolvency proceedings will not be initiated at least for six months starting from March 25 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Bill was already passed in Rajya Sabha on Saturday.

During the discussion on the Bill, Congress  dubbed the government as “ordinance-savvy”, accusing it of promulgating one ordinance after another under the pretext of the pandemic. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the constitutional measure of bringing ordinance should be resorted to as an exception and not a rule. Criticising the bill, which replaces an ordinance, he said it is “weakly constructed with minimum logic and a lot of grey area”. “It is nothing but is aimed to patronise their (government) preferred corporates,” he alleged, adding the MSME sector will be its worst victim. The bill does not safeguard any stakeholder while the government is trying to save corporate debtors, he alleged.

He also said that under the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CRIP), the success rate has been very low. There has been a “poor and dismal” performance under you, he said, referring to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Lok Sabha passes bill to amend Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act

Lok Sabha passed a bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act that seeks to make it mandatory for the office-bearers of an NGO to provide their Aadhaar numbers during registration. Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, was not against any religion or NGO.

Replying to the debate, Rai asserted the bill would help in curbing misuse of foreign funds and was necessary for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). Among other provisions, the bill proposes to enable the Centre to allow an NGO or association to surrender its FCRA certificate.

Congress MP Anto Antony said an attempt was being made to “suffocate the NGOs” through this bill. He, however, said action should definitely be taken if an NGO is found involved in anti-national activities. But in some cases it has been seen that due to technical reasons licences get cancelled “which is an attack on the minority”.

Over 1,634 crore digital transactions registered in Apr-Aug: Dhotre

Digital payments have recorded a jump with 1,634.92 crore digital transactions being conducted between April-August this year, the Parliament was informed on Monday. Digital payments have increased in the country during the last three years from 2,071 crore digital transactions in FY2017-18 to 3,134 crore in FY2018-19, and further to 4,572 crore in FY2019-20, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

In the financial year (till August), 1,634.92 crore digital transactions were registered, he said, adding that final data for July and August 2020 has not yet been published by RBI. Replying to a separate question, Dhotre said 306.47 crore transactions were recorded in April, 329.22 crore in May and 412.14 crore in June this year. “In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, digital payments have increased as people are adopting more digital payments as these are easy, convenient and safe and enable a contactless mode of payment,” Dhotre said.

India’s imports from China dip 27.63% during Apr-Aug: Piyush Goyal

India’s imports from China dropped by 27.63 per cent during April-August this fiscal to USD 21.58 billion as compared to the same period previous year, Parliament was informed on Monday. Value of imports from China stood at USD 4.98 billion in August and USD 5.58 in July, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in his written reply to the Lok Sabha. “India’s imports from China have declined by 27.63 per cent during April-August, 2020-21 over the corresponding period of the previous year,” he said. In a separate reply, Goyal said there is no proposal under consideration on withdrawal of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to China.

(With PTI inputs)

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