Finance Bill: What The Government Doesn’t Want You To Know

Posted by Shivaji Singh in Politics
April 8, 2017

I am not surprised to see the kind of attention Yogi’s clothes, his love for cows, why he doesn’t grow hairs on his head or who tailors his clothes, are getting. I am not surprised why the news channels have not made any sincere attempt to hold a debate on the ‘Finance Bill’.

The vicious cycle of what media shows and what public demands will continue till there are some strict regulations from the PCI (Press Council of India) and NBSA (News Broadcasting Standard Authority). It may sound autocratic but is capable of cutting down the stupidity spread across the medium.

The amendments made to the Finance Bill will surely raise eyebrows even if the person is a sycophant of the ruling party.

The previous limit of 7.5% contributions (of the net profit) from the corporates has been removed and what comes as more shocking is that the corporates don’t even need to declare the names of the political parties they gave the money to.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrives to attend the Parliament Budget Session on April 5, 2017 in New Delhi. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

According to the Companies Act, it’s the right of the shareholders to know the number of donations (above Rs 20,000) made. The stance of the party is still not clear regarding this provision, and it may not be surprising if certain amendment, to keep it hidden, is made just like the other 40 amendments made in the Bill.

Had cashless transaction been the only motive behind such move, I think there was no need to do away with the declaration of the names of the corporates who donated money to political parties.

The argument that disclosing names of beneficiaries will attract unfavourable decisions against the corporates is a lame excuse just to keep the level of corruption hidden. The corporates are smart enough to keep every political party at bay by donating money to all.

While the BJP government is making Aadhaar mandatory for all welfare schemes (going against the Supreme court’s decision which clearly mentions the applicability of Aadhaar as complimentary), it’s hard to believe the same government is going soft on corporates by making PAN not mandatory and giving tax exemptions on the funding received.

The “donation” could be a misleading term as going even by the stringent definition of corporate governance. No corporates would invest such huge amount without any ulterior motive or favour. Even 2% of “donations” under the mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has to go through certain guidelines and is set to garner guaranteed return on investments.

The hue and cry being raised by the Opposition (if at all there is one) is meaningless since it remains silent on the proposed amendments, and it’s no-brainer to understand why.

Impeding the Lokpal Bill could be another example of why one need to scrutinise the manifesto and motive of the political parties carefully.

One may defend digitisation because it will track every penny of donations made, but what remains the fact is that the final authority stays with the government to be used at their whim and fancy.