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Bills for GST appellate tribunals, spending likely in winter session

New Delhi: The government proposes to introduce two key bills in the upcoming winter session to pave the way for goods and services tax (GST) appeals tribunals and to seek permission for changes in its spending plans, two people aware of the plans said.

The bill to amend the central GST law will propose to allow advocates with experience in litigation to be appointed as judicial members in GST appellate tribunal benches, a person aware of the plan said on the condition of anonymity.

The age criteria will also be more relaxed than when it was originally proposed, in an attempt to ease the process of finding suitable members.

The government will also present a bill to seek Parliament’s approval for adjustments to the Centre’s 35 trillion spending programme in the current fiscal, a second person added.

The supplementary demand for grants for the year is expected to seek adjustments to the Centre’s spending programme without major net additional fund outgo.

The parliament’s winter session is scheduled to commence from 4 December.

“The government will stick to the 5.9% fiscal deficit target for the current financial year. The Bill will seek reallocation of savings under certain categories of spending to where there is extra requirement,” the second person said, also on the condition of anonymity.

One area of additional funding requirement is the nutrient-based fertilizer subsidy.

In the first six months of the financial year, the government spent 96% of the 44,000 crore originally allocated for this at the beginning of the year.

The total food, fertilizer and petroleum subsidy spending up to September stood at 55% of the 3.7 trillion earmarked for the year, according to official data.

The government requires Parliament’s green signal for extra spending even if it is met through savings under some other category.

Experts pointed out that the additional spending requirement is broadly due to externalities.

“The government’s fiscal performance is expected to be almost in line with what has been projected. Even if there is any slippage, that will be very marginal,” said D.K. Srivastava, chief policy adviser, EY India.

However, the much-awaited set of amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) to provide a regime for dealing with financial distress at the group level of corporations and to offer a special regime for real estate are unlikely to make it to the winter session as the proposals are still not final, the first person quoted above said.

At present, IBC offers only debt resolution at individual company level.

Also, a set of amendments that were proposed to be made in the Companies Act to revamp the statutory audit regime may not make it to the winter session.

It would mean uncertainty about them getting cleared during the current Lok Sabha’s term.

However, a third person privy to the discussions in the government said that work was on, on these fronts.

An email sent to the spokesperson for the finance and corporate affairs ministries on Thursday seeking comments for the story remained unanswered.

In the special session of Parliament convened in September, the House had passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Sixth Amendment) Act, 2023 also known as the women’s reservation law, reserving a third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women.

The winter session of parliament is beginning a day after counting of votes for assembly elections currently being held in five states—Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Telangana.

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Updated: 18 Nov 2023, 12:08 AM IST

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