Insurance bill set to sail in RS, Cong likely to cooperate

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi:
  • Updated: Mar 12, 2015 12:26 IST

The insurance bill, stuck in Parliament since 2008, is finally headed for clearance in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

With the government agreeing to the Opposition’s demand to refer two other contentious bills, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, to select committees in the upper House, the Congress is likely to give up its opposition to the insurance bill, ensuring its passage, sources said.

“All our apprehensions about the bill have been taken care of. There is no reason why we should oppose it. After all, it’s our bill,” a senior Congress leader told HT.

A section of the Congress has always maintained the original bill to raise the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector to 49% from the current 26% was tabled during UPA’s regime.

Opposition sources also pointed out that it was difficult to seek further parliamentary review for the bill, given that it has already been referred to the standing and select committees.

The government is likely to list the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. It will also refer to the select committee report on the bill that was tabled during the winter session. The government had accepted the panel’s recommendations to introduce a fresh bill. Accordingly, instead of an FDI cap, as envisaged in the original bill, the new legislation stipulates that cumulative foreign investment can’t exceed 49% for insurance companies.

A day after a heated debate, Rajya Sabha on Wednesday referred the coal bill and the mines and minerals bill to separate 19-member select committees, in accordance with the Opposition’s demand for parliamentary review. But the panels, which will submit their recommendations by March 18, will comprise members from both the government and Opposition.

“It has been decided that the select committees will table their reports by March 18 so that the bills can be taken up for passage in the first half of the budget session,” parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said. The first half of the ongoing budget session is on till March 20.

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