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Lok Sabha to decide fate of GST Bill tomorrow; financial business to be main agenda of both the Houses

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Winter session of Parliament

By NewsGram Staff Writer

After the eventful first week of the second part of the ongoing Budget session of Parliament, financial business will continue to be the main agenda of both the Houses during the second week beginning tomorrow.

The GST Bill (The Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill,2014) has been listed for further consideration and passing in Lok Sabha on Monday. Finance Minister Arun Jaitely moved this Bill in the House last week explaining its objectives and benefits in the economic integration of the country. The Lower House will conclude the financial business with the passage of Finance Bill during the second week.

Reports of Parliamentary Standing Committees pertaining to grant demands for 2015-16 of the Ministries of Agriculture, Defence, Energy, Environment and Forests & Climate Change, Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Industry, Science and Technology, Water Resources and Urban Development will be submitted in both the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

Rajya Sabha will resume the second week taking forward the discussion on agrarian crisis and suicide by farmers in different parts of the country. During the next week, the Upper House is to discuss the working of Ministries of External Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Law & Justice, Social Justice and Empowerment and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. It will also consider the Railways Appropriation Bill as passed by Lok Sabha during first week of the session.

The Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha has assigned time for discussing three Bills viz., The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, pending before the Upper House, with official amendments. The other Bills being –The Warehousing Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and The Payment and Settlement Systems(Amendment) Bill, 2014, both as passed by the Lok Sabha.

In the second part of the Budget session which began on April 20, 2015, Lok Sabha has passed the Railways Appropriation Bill, the lone Bill to have been passed by either of the Houses. The Lower House completed discussion on demands for grants of Ministries of Chemicals and Fertilizers and Drinking Water and Sanitation. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement on the crisis in Yemen and rescue efforts of the government for evacuation of Indians from that country. The government has moved the GST Bill for consideration and passing during the first week.

Earlier, Rajya Sabha, whose 235th Session began on April 23, 2015 made history by passing the Private Member’s Bill on the rights of transgender persons moved by Tiruchi Shiva of DMK.

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Kenya’s Parliament to Nationalize Country’s Main Airline Kenya Airways

A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017

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Kenya, Airline, Parliament
FILE - Kenya Airways planes are seen parked at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport near Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 28, 2016. VOA

Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts.

The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth.

A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue.

Parliament’s transport committee, however, rejected that plan, recommending instead the nationalization of the airline in a report debated by the national assembly on June 18.

Kenya, Airline, Parliament
Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts. Pixabay

In a voice vote taken on Tuesday afternoon, the majority of lawmakers in the chamber voted to accept the report.

Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph told Reuters the vote was “great news.”

“Nationalization is what is necessary to compete on a level playing field. It is not what we want, but what we need,” he said, referring to competitors such as Ethiopian Airlines which are state-run and profitable.

Air France-KLM could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The government will now draw up an implementation plan, with clear time lines, said Esther Koimett, the principal secretary at the ministry of transport.

“Parliament is our boss … we will obviously take the recommendations of parliament,” she told Reuters.

Kenya is seeking to emulate countries like Ethiopia which run air transport assets from airports to fueling operations under a single company, using funds from the more profitable parts to support others, such as national airlines.

“The government is keen to take a consolidated view of aviation assets of the country in order to make sure they work in a coherent and efficient way to support the (Nairobi aviation) hub,” Koimett said.

Kenya, Airline, Parliament
The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. Pixabay

The committee’s report proposes that Kenya set up an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways. Another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport.

The committee’s report also recommended the holding company be given tax concessions for a period to be determined and that it be exempted from paying excise duty on all goods, including jet fuel.

Koimett dismissed concerns that nationalization could lead to further mismanagement. Kenya’s state-owned enterprises sector is riddled with corporate corpses and near failures caused by theft and poor management over the decades.

“Implementation is really the key thing … Ultimately all these things have to do really with ensuring that we get the right people in the right places,” she said.

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($1 = 103.7000 Kenyan shillings) (VOA)