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A Bill to amend tax as well as other laws, like the SEBI Act, the RBI Act, the CGST Act and the PMLA Act, was on Thursday passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote.
Moving the Finance (No. 2) Bill, 2019 in the Lower House, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said amendments were being made in five major categories, including the goods and services tax (GST).
Sitharaman said facilities were being extended for setting up of low-cost electronic payment systems, keeping in mind the government's digitisation goal.
The Minister said six of the eight amendments being proposed in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 were explanatory clauses to iron out ambiguities and address grey areas. An amendment was for deletion of a proviso, which the government had deemed unnecessary, she said.
Stating that amendments to the indirect tax laws have been cleared by the GST Council, she said they would have to come through Parliament too.
The amendment to the RBI Act is to strengthen the central bank's regulatory powers with regard to non-banking financial companies (NBFC) and the government deems it necessary for the RBI to take over regulation of NBFCs.
On a question about digital payments to political parties, the Minister said digital payments always left a trail, right from the destination to the source. "Hence, the move is an attempt to make payments to political parties transparent," she said and added the ease of living was the primary driving force of the current government.
Responding to suggestions and queries, the Finance Minister said the 'make in India' scheme needs to be given a greater push.
She said the Bill provided for amendment to seven direct and indirect tax-related laws, and added the direct tax amendment of the 25 per cent tax rate would apply to companies with an annual revenue of Rs 250 crore. "The decision will benefit 99.3 per cent of the 1.5 million companies that will come under this," the Minister said.
On the incentives to e-vehicles, she said the deduction on the loan interest was to encourage buyers keeping in mind the state of environment. "Different provisions have been made for startups, including allowing them to carry forward their loses to the subsequent financial year, to encourage them," she said.
The Minister said, the amendments with regard to taxation in the Budget was to allow ease of business and support the 'make in India' scheme.
Sitharaman said the Payment and Settlement systems Act, the Black Money Act, the Income Tax Act, the Finance Act 2015, the Finance Act 2004 and the Benami Act were among the seven direct taxation laws being amended by the Bill.
These amendments were aimed at reduction in corporate tax rate, boost sale of e-vehicles, support startups, encourage international financial service centre, support certain NBFCs, furthering the government agenda of tackling black money, TDS on tax withdrawal from banks, compulsory filing of returns, and quoting of PAN and Aadhaar.
She said seven laws were being amended to make indirect tax related issues simple and effective. The indirect taxation laws include the Customs Act, the Tariff Act, the GST Act, the Finance Act 2002, the Finance Act 2018.
The GST Act alone has five different amendments to increase ease of compliance for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector as well as prompting digital payments and improving compliance, the Finance Minister said.