The Pension and Banking Regulation bill remains a contentious issue as the UPA-Left coordination committee meets on Monday.
The Communist leaders will go for the meeting with an agenda that calls on the Government to roll back petrol and diesel prices (by Rs 4 and Rs 2 respectively following the decline in global crude prices) and amend the Special Economic Zone Act so that it caps the land allotted for such purposes and increases the compensation paid to farmers from whom the land is acquired.
"We will raise the issue of SEZ and reduction of petrol and diesel prices,’’ CPM general secretary Prakash Karat told the Hindustan Times". According to CPM, CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc leaders, the SEZs have turned into a "land grab" scheme.
But coming ahead of Parliament’s winter session starting November 22, the UPA is once again likely to solicit the Left’s support for the pensions reforms bill.
After the October 4 meeting of the panel, CPI’s AB Bardhan had said that the controversial issues of SEZs, and banking, pensions and insurance sector reforms would be discussed in November.
Though the two sides were caught in a deadlock on crucial economic issues, with the Government rejecting most of the suggestions the Communists had made in their June 15 note on mobilising resources to fund social sector programmes, the UPA had tried to buy the Left’s support on the pension bill by assuring that the savings of government employees would be parked with public sector units only.
Initial reports that the CPM and CPI were amenable to the idea were hastily denied by the two parties as the trade unions rejected the proposal. The October meeting was attended by Karat, Sitaram Yechury (CPM), Bardhan, D Raja (CPI) and Abani Roy (RSP).
"Any proposal which makes a pension scheme dependent on earnings even if it is from public sector units is not acceptable. Pension is a social benefit and the Government has to accept its social responsibility.
"It is impossible for trade unions to accept abandonment of social responsibility by the government in a welfare state," CPI and All India Trade Union Congress leader Gurudas Dasgupta had told Hindustan Times at that time.
Asked about the party’s stand if the Government revived the proposal of parking the funds in PSUs, Karat said. "The question is where will the funds go from there."