No storm in the House this monsoon session

Hindustan Times, August 12, 2016

Parliament utilised almost all of its allotted time for legislative business this monsoon session that ends this week, breaking from past instances where both Houses were stalled because of differences between the government and Opposition.

The Lok Sabha utilised 100% of its allotted time while the Rajya Sabha made productive use of 99% of the time, data show.
The remarkable improvement in performance with almost zero disruptions helped the government pass a slew of reform bills.

The NDA government, with the backing of opposition parties, cleared the constitution amendment bill to implement one of India?s biggest reform measures?the goods and services tax.

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On Wednesday, the Lower House introduced and quickly passed the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill that allows more exemptions to employers in the textile sector. Textile is one of the biggest job generators in India, and the government is looking at creating more employment in this booming sector.

Hours later, another bill?this one dealing with the sensitive labour sector?was passed. The Factories (amendment) bill allowed more overtime for workers, expanding their scope of income and enhanced production.

The House is painting a different picture from earlier days when repeated appeals of then finance minister P Chidambaram to allow the insurance laws to be passed would fall on deaf ears.

In early 2014, the bill?to allow more FDI in insurance firms?was all ready to be taken up. In a meeting with the BJP, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha told Chidambaram: ?We will pass it when we come to power after a few months,? pouring cold water on the early passage of the crucial reforms measure.

Parliament also cleared the long-pending Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill and two bills on higher education.

The upper House passed the proposed law on compulsory afforestation or the Campa bill, barely two months after the Congress refused to pass it citing violations of forest rights acts.

As information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu puts it, ?There has been a good monsoon and also a good monsoon session.?

In last two years, Parliament has witnessed two washed-out sessions and frequent disruptions. The Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition is in majority, had even recorded its lowest performance in last 15 years in last year?s monsoon session.

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