Parliament winter session agenda: From GST to corruption, govt looks to get key bills cleared

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Even as the demonetisation move threatens to swamp the winter session of Parliament beginning on Wednesday, the Centre has lined up three key goods and service tax (GST) Bills for approval to roll out the new tax from April 1 next year.

Parliament would meet for 22 sittings between November 16 and December 16. The legislative agenda included nine Bills for introduction and approval, 10 pending Bills for passing. Two Bills are listed for withdrawal.

It would introduce the CGST Bill, 2016, to facilitate levy of tax on supply of goods or services, the Integrated GST Bill, 2016, to levy of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services and the GST (Compensation for Loss of Revenue) Bill, 2016, to facilitates payment of compensation to states for any loss of revenue arising under the GST regime.

The Centre aims to get Parliament’s nod to these three Bills during the session. While most political parties have broadly supported and made considerable progress in addressing issues such as GST rates, a few sticky issues such as on jurisdiction of assessees between the Centre and states, needed to be sorted out. The GST Council, the apex decision making body on the matter, is expected to sort out all issues by November 24-25.

Among others, the Centre would push the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill that primarily seeks to protect officers who have taken honest decisions that could go wrong later on. It requires prior sanction to prosecute former officials, makes giving a bribe an offence and modifies the definition of taking a bribe.

Three Bills for reforms in labour laws, pending in either House of Parliament, would also be taken up. The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to enhance the limit of overtime work hours and empowers central government to make exempting rules related to overtime hours. It was approved by the Lok Sabha in August this year, but pending in the Rajya Sabha. The Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 requires an employer to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the 1923 Act and imposes a penalty for failure to inform. It is pending in the Rajya Sabha.

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