Debating India

Cabinet clears 11 Bills

Thursday 5 May 2005

Special Correspondent

Present law on taxation too cluttered, says Jaipal Reddy

Bills on

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved 11 Bills for introduction in the remaining period of the current session of Parliament. They include those relating to right to information, amendments to the Banking Regulation Act and the Reserve Bank of India Act and abolition of cess on export of agricultural products.

The package comprises legislation for special economic zones, development of small and medium-scale enterprises and amendment to the Bill relating to regulation of credit information companies. The remaining proposals relate to prohibition of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and disaster management.

Union Minister Jaipal Reddy said the Cabinet also cleared a Bill to amend taxation laws to provide for differentiation between fiscal and non-fiscal matter. The present legislation was too cluttered. On the legislation on right to information, he said the Bill was an amendment to the Bill introduced last year on the basis of the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee and the Group of Ministers, which subsequently went into it. It would seek to vest comprehensive rights on people to provide for total transparency in public administration.

Information commissions

The Cabinet cleared the setting up of information commissions in States and Union Territories. In the States, the commission would be headed by a State Chief Information Commissioner (SCICs) and assisted by State Information Commissioners (SICs). While the number of SICs would be decided as per the functional needs of each State, they would not exceed 10. The expenditure involved in the creation of the posts of SCICs and SICs is estimated to be Rs. 65 crores per year. In addition, funds would be provided for accommodation and other amenities.

On the legislation for special economic zones, he said the Bill would contain income tax concessions for both SEZ units and SEZ developers. The units would be eligible for 100 per cent tax exemption for five years, 50 per cent for the next five years and 50 per cent of the ploughed back export profits for the next five years.

The developers will continue to get 100 per cent tax exemption for 10 years in a block period of 15 years. The legislation would provide for a single-window clearance and approval mechanism for the establishment of SEZs as well as production units inside the zones.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill would provide a firm legislative basis to the country’s commitment at the highest level to prevent weapons of mass destruction and fulfil the nation’s obligations pursuant to the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540.

Updated dual-use export controls may also facilitate better access to advanced dual-purpose technologies.

As regards the abolition of cess on export of agricultural products, the Government proposed to repeal the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Cess Act and the Spices Cess Act and make suitable amendments to the Tobacco Cess Act, the Coffee Act and the Marine Products Export Development Authority Act.

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