The UPA government has pitched two key economic issues in its agenda for the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for Thursday.
The CCEA will consider a disinvestment proposal of steel major Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and the Union cabinet is likely to approve the amendments to the long-awaited Forward Contracts (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which is seen as a tool to check inflation of food articles.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee in December 2011 had suggested key changes in the proposed amendment bill aimed at bringing Forward Markets Commission on a par with its securities market counterpart, SEBI.
The agriculture ministry is said to have agreed with key recommendations of the committee, including increasing the maximum penalty to insider trading violation to R50 lakh from the earlier proposed fine of Rs. 25 lakh.
Another key amendment being proposed is to make it easier for farmers and small traders to trade through future commodity market instead of playing at the hands of big traders, who have been accused of inflating prices through the future market trading.
Some other key recommendations of the standing committee on strengthening the commission have also been agreed upon by the agriculture ministry.
Amid the government’s efforts to send positive signals to investors, the steel ministry has proposed to offload around 10.82% of the government’s share from SAIL. The government currently holds around 85% stake in SAIL.
The move is seen as a rebuff to UPA ally Trinamool Congress, which had opposed disinvestment in profit-making PSUs and had earlier stalled the attempt to disinvest government holding in SAIL.