Govt wants changes in Finance Bill to curb money in polls

Raj Kamal Rao

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed cheque-only contributions to electoral trusts as part of the tirade against blackmoney.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi

Moving an “unprecedented” 40 amendments to his seven-week old Finance Bill 2017 in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that a lot of electoral funding to political parties across the spectrum came by way of undisclosed money.

“Therefore, in the Budget announcement, we came out with a proposal that there will be an income tax incentive involved in four different ways. One is that monies are paid by cheque. The maximum cash donation which earlier was allowed up to Rs 20,000 will now be allowed up to Rs 2,000 as the Election Commission has recommended,” Jaitley said

Jaitley said that electoral bonds will be issued in accordance with the scheme under the Income Tax Act to regulate mass collection or for collections made through digital media.

Jaitley said that an amendment to the Representation of the People Act may be required to implement electoral bonds and said that will only be an “off-shoot” incidental provision as RBI can authorise a particular bank to issue the electoral bonds

“So, these are all incidental announcements to that entire scheme which has been made under the Income Tax Act itself,” Jaitley said.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties led by the RSP, the TMC and the BJD criticised the government for making all bills as money bills and protested the introduction of more than 40 amendments to finance bill.

Justifying the move, Jaitley said the amendments were all “incidental provisions” to the Finance Bill and relate to Budget announcements like combining some tribunals and creating uniform service conditions.