The government and opposition parties are set to enter a fresh confrontation on FDI in multi-brand retail, this time on whether both houses of Parliament need to approve amendments in Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) rules.
The government says that as it has already tabled five amendments to FEMA for enabling the implementation of its decision to allow FDI in the retail sector, no further ratification by Parliament is needed. Nonetheless, since it has the numbers in Lok Sabha, the government is willing to face voting there.
Top opposition leaders claimed that the government cannot avoid voting on the issue in the budget session. "Suppose the government takes a vote on regulations along with the debate under rule 184 on Wednesday. Another member can move a fresh amendment later and that too would be voted," an opposition leader said.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said it was sufficient to get the approval of one parliamentary House, and there was "no need for both houses to pass it". As the government lacks a majority in Rajya Sabha, it does not want to run the risk of putting the FDI decision at its mercy. The controversy
The opposition, however, is not ready to accept the government's argument. The Left parties, which first raised the issue, pointed out that the Supreme Court had - on October 15 - questioned the decision to allow FDI in retail without changes in FEMA regulations. "Section 48 of the FEMA makes it absolutely clear that while the regulations lie before parliament for 30 days. It is the statutory right of a member to raise objections to any amendment. Therefore, voting in both houses is required," said CPM's Sitaram Yechury.
The opposition also plans to raise objections to proposed amendments in FEMA regulations during the budget session. It may force government managers to reach out to parties such as DMK, SP and BSP once again. Bills on the menu
HRD minister Kapil Sibal, however, said that the opposition's understanding of the issue was completely wrong.
Parliament officials, meanwhile, feel that both the government and opposition parties were not being practical. "The FEMA amendments notified by RBI have been tabled. The onus is now on opposition members who either want to defeat these amendments. The opposition needs to win in both the houses," said a senior official.