Government may opt for ordinance to push coal, insurance reforms
New Delhi: Government may adopt the ordinance route to push reforms in insurance and coal sectors as relevant bills could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha, whose functioning was paralysed in the just-concluded winter session.
An indication about the insurance sector was given by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha when he said government has to consider “all possibilities”.
“We need the skills and the expertise that foreign insurance companies do provide. So we have to really think through all the different alternatives. We need to ensure that the product and services (related to insurance) are available to all the people of India.
“We will have to consider all possibilities right now because the fact is that the country needs more investment in the insurance sector,” Sinha said when asked whether the government would look at the ordinance route.
The Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, 2008 could not be taken up for discussion despite being approved by the Select Committee of the Upper House because of the uproar over the conversion and other issues. The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014 has already been approved by the Lok Sabha during the session but could make no progress in the other House.
Sinha blamed political obstructionism for the disruption of Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Saturday said, “the government is extremely determined to go ahead with this (insurance sector) reforms and will not allow a Parliamentary disturbance to obstruct or delay a reform of this kind.”
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As regards the Coal Bill, Jaitley had said, “it is a bill which has been unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha. All doubts have been cleared. It was not allowed to come on the agenda of the Upper House.”
The Insurance Bill, which has been pending since 2008 in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to increase the composite foreign investment limit in insurance companies to 49 percent from current level of 26 percent.
The 49 percent cap would include both FDI and foreign portfolio investments. The passage of Coal Bill is essential as it would pave way for auctioning of coal mines which were cancelled by the Supreme Court.