A day after partymen raised a stink over the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) alleged policy paralysis at the Congress working committee meeting, the government moved to put amendments to the pension bill — one of the reform measures that had been hit by coalition politics — at Thursday’s cabinet meeting.
A cabinet note mentioned that the government had decided to address the concerns of all stakeholders and to build a broad consensus on pension reforms.
Although the amended bill retains the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) at 26%, it allows the pensioner to demand minimum assured returns and withdraw from his account.
If the cabinet clears it, the government will try to pass the bill in the monsoon session of Parliament.
The UPA — especially after the downgrading of India’s credit ratings and the nine-year low gross domestic product growth rate — revived the cabinet note prepared in February.
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PRFDA) Bill, 2011, had been stuck in Parliament — first by the Left during the UPA 1 tenure and later by the Trinamool Congress, the second biggest UPA 2 constituent.
TMC boss Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December, asking him not to proceed with the bill as it may affect the common man’s savings. The BJP, however, has already assured support for the amended bill.
On Tuesday, Trinamool leader and minister of state for urban development Saugata Ray told HT: “There is no change in our stand (even with the amendments to the bill).”
If cleared by the cabinet, the UPA managers will get almost a month to convince the TMC. But in case Banerjee sticks to her guns, the government can push the bill through with support from parties like the SP and BSP.