HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

UPA’s next big thrust on fiscal reforms

Saubhadra Chatterji and Gaurav Choudhury, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 30, 2013
First Published: 23:33 IST(30/8/2013) | Last Updated: 23:36 IST(30/8/2013)

After its pro-people measures of food and land bills, issues of key financial sector reforms will dominate the UPA government’s agenda next week in Parliament.

The government, on a war footing to restore the value of the rupee and boost the economy, will push the long-pending Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) bill to allow 26% FDI in the sector.


The Bill also permits fund managers to invest a part of the fund in stock markets, apart from giving the Authority statutory status and quasi-judicial powers.

The UPA will also look forward to win the vote on the amendments to the FEMA regulations to clear a major bottleneck to roll out of the FDI in multi-brand retail. The FEMA test is slated in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Sources indicated that the pension bill, expected to send strong signals to investors and stock markets, may come up for debate as early as on Monday. The government held long negotiations and accepted key amendments including the one on minimum assured return for investors. “We have no problem with the pension bill,” senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said last week.

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill will bring the National Pension System under its ambit. The National Pension System that was opened for all citizens from 2009 May has a corpus of R33,000-crore and a subscriber base of 5 million.

In Rajya Sabha three opposition members have served notices against the proposed FEMA amendments to block the FDI in retail. The UPA earlier managed to win the vote on FEMA regulations in the Lok Sabha.

Investors’ fear overblown: Ramesh

New Delhi: Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh feels that the industries’ fear about the land bill is “largely exaggerated and overblown”. He also had no qualms to admit that the cost of acquisition will go up but argued, “It will happen only if the private parties want the government to buy land for them. If they buy land directly, all these clauses will not apply.” The bill, according to him, is meant to benefit the farmers, the Dalits, the tribals and thus “it is in national interest.”

Rejecting the view that it is anti-investment, Ramesh said on Friday that the law should be seen in its entirety and not just from the industries’ viewpoint. “The land bill is just a transitional arrangement. Twenty years from now, India should not have a act for land deals.”

(HT Correspondent)

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