Finance minister defends govt on prices as Parliament gets back to work

Finance minister defends govt on prices as Parliament gets back to work

NEW DELHI: After two weeks of virtual washout, Parliament transacted legislative business again on Monday with the Lok Sabha taking up a debate on price rise during which finance minister

Nirmala Sitharaman

assured the members that the macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy remain strong.

The debate was held after Speaker Om Birla revoked the suspension of four

Congress

MPs. He sought assurance from all

opposition

members that they will not bring placards to the House and warned of stringent action against those who violate the rules that bar members from bringing any “exhibits” to the House.

After both Houses suffered repeated disruptions in the morning session, the Rajya Sabha also passed two bills post lunch.

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Earlier in the day, Union ministers Pralhad Joshi and Piyush Goyal said the government was ready for discussion on price rise issue and revocation of suspension if the opposition members or the leader of Congress assured the House that none of its members would bring back placards. Goyal had also accused the opposition of running away from discussion fearing the government would expose how states ruled by them didn’t do enough to bring down prices.

When the Lower House met after lunch break, Birla made an appeal to MPs from both the benches to allow the House to function and also cited the poor productivity rate. Earlier he had held a meeting with the floor leaders, where it was decided that the government would move a proposal to withdraw the suspension of the four Congress MPs.

“To maintain decorum in the House is the responsibility of all members and we must comply with the rules and norms,” Birla said. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and parliamentary affairs minister Joshi also spoke on the same lines with the former assuring the House that the party will comply with the norms.

In Rajya Sabha, soon after the House met in the morning, Shiv Sena MPs accompanied by other opposition leaders raised the recent action by Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Shiv Sea MP, Sanjay Raut. Opposition leaders also raised price rise and GST on some daily essentials while seeking immediate discussion.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien flagged that the government has not accepted even one issue under Rule 267 in the last six years after demonetisation.

Amid protests and sloganeering by opposition MPs, Goyal said, “They have been demanding that price rise be discussed. Today, it is listed in Lok Sabha. Tomorrow, it will be listed in Rajya Sabha. The Opposition had collectively assured us that once the date is finalized and it is listed, they will allow the House to run properly.”

On the ED issue, Goyal said, “We are law-makers and not law-breakers. Those who break the law face the consequences of the law. I would appeal to them to let the law take its course. The government cannot interfere with the law enforcement agencies. They are doing their job.”

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