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Budget session to begin from 29 January, Finance Bill to be tabled on 1 February

The crucial Budget session of the Parliament will begin from 29 January with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government laying stress on economic revival amid covid-19 outbreak. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget for financial year 2021-22 on 1 February.

“The fifth session of seventeenth Lok Sabha will commence on Friday, the 29th January, 2021. Subject to exigencies of government business, the session is likely to conclude on Thursday, the 8th April, 2021,” quoted an official press release by the Lok Sabha secretariat on Thursday adding that the session will see a break from 15 February to 8 March.

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The Budget session will begin with President Ram Nath Kovind addressing both the Houses of the Parliament on the first day at 11am. According to a PTI report, the Economic Survey is expected be tabled on 29 January after Kovind’s address.

Personal Data Protection Bill, for which a joint committee was set up to review it, is one of the key legislations that could be taken up for consideration in the Budget session. Other important bills from last year which were referred to parliamentary committees include the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill; and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill and the Dam Safety Bill.

Opposition parties are likely to raise the issue of farmers’ protest, India-China border standoff during the session. Senior opposition leaders may also be keen to discuss the employment issues and problem of reverse migration during covid-19 lockdowns, during which over 7 million labourers returned to their home states.

“The opposition parties have stayed away from the protests by farmers because we do not want to allow the BJP to make it a political issue but we will raise the issue in the Parliament. The Union government will have to explain the situation in Parliament,” said a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.

There has been a growing demand by opposition parties to hold discussions over a series of key issues particularly the covid-19 pandemic and its handling by the Union government. The opposition parties are also likely to raise the issue of vaccination for covid-19 which kick starts from Saturday and financial assistance to states to deal with the fallout of the pandemic.

The covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on parliamentary proceedings with truncated sessions last year. While the Budget session in March 2020 was cut by nearly 10 days, an already truncated Monsoon session in September was reduced by eight days. The two session together accounted for only 33 sittings in the entire year, including 23 in the budget session and 10 in the Monsoon session, according to PRS Legislative Research.

On the lines of Monsoon session last year, the Budget session too will see strict social distancing norms and precautionary measures will be put in place for convening the session. This includes holding sittings of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in different shifts and utilising different halls in the Parliament to convene the sittings among others.

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