New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday (September 22) passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 by a voice vote. The bill aims to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Danve Raosaheb Dadarao assured the House that the Bill is in the interest of farmers and consumers, adding “It is for the benefit of farmers, and consumers. Doubling farmers` income is our pledge, and this bill is an important step towards fulfilling it.”
Dadarao further said, “There was a problem of storage, and issues with the supply chain in the country. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill will give a push to the people involved in the supply chain. Investments in the farming sector will increase, and also the losses will be further cut down by the improvement in a storage facility and an increase in technology.”
Earlier, the bill was introduced by Dadarao in the Lok Sabha on 14th September 2020 to replace ordinances promulgated on 5th June 2020. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 15th September 2020.
The bill aims to remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute, and supply will lead to harnessing economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector. It will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of the food supply chain.
It may be mentioned here that the Upper House also passed several key bills including the essential commodities list in a matter of three and a half hours.
The other bills passed in the Rajya Sabha today are:
1. First, it passed a bill to declare five newly-established Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) as institutions of national importance.
2. Rajya Sabha also passed amendments to the Bank Regulation Act to bring cooperative banks under the supervision of the RBI in a bid to protect the interest of depositors.
3. Thereafter the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which removes the penalty for certain offences, was passed.
4. The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020, and the Rashtriya Rakash University Bill were passed in quick succession.
5. Thereafter the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 to relax time limit on compliance with tax laws, GST payment, and filing in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 as well as the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 replace emergency ordinances.
Notably, the sitting of the Rajya Sabha was extended by just over an hour beyond the scheduled time to allow the passage of the bills. The legislative business started at 10.29 hours and ended at 14.03 hrs – 214 minutes in all.
All the seven bills have already been passed by Lok Sabha and will now be sent to the President for assent. Once he gives his assent, they will become the law.
IBC (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020
Parliament on Monday approved the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 to protect COVID-19-stressed companies from being pushed into insolvency under the Code.
Winding up a discussion on the bill in Lok Sabha, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the provisions will not impact insolvency proceedings initiated before March 25, the day the national-wide lockdown was imposed by the government to check the spread of coronavirus.
The bill seeking to replace an ordinance, promulgated in June, was later approved by Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha approved the bill on Saturday.
The relaxation from initiation of insolvency proceedings was initially provided for a period of six months which ends on September 25.
A decision with regard to the extension of the time period by another six months was likely to be taken later in the week.
The changes in Sections 7, 9, and 10 of the IBC, she said, would provide relief to companies reeling under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sections 7, 9, and 10 deal with the initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process by a financial creditor, operational creditor, and corporate debtor, respectively.
The minister said that insolvency proceedings against corporates defaulting on loans prior to March 25 will continue and the amendment will not stall those cases.
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act passed
On Monday, the Lok Sabha passed a bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act that seeks to make it mandatory for the office-bearers of an NGO to provide their Aadhaar numbers during registration.
Amid concerns raised by various Opposition members about The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said the legislation was not against any religion or NGO. The bill was passed after a debate.
The bill proposes to enable the Centre to allow an NGO or association to surrender its FCRA certificate.