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Economic reforms to take a backseat

As a direct fallout of the still-unfolding global financial crisis, India's economic reforms have lost political will, reports Mahua Venkatesh.

business Updated: Oct 12, 2008 21:38 IST
Mahua Venkatesh

As a direct fallout of the still-unfolding global financial crisis, India's economic reforms have lost political will. Political parties across the spectrum are developing cold feet to go ahead with any reform measure in the financial sector.

While the UPA government is unlikely to push any pending bills aimed at reforms in the financial sector --- banking, insurance and pension --- for Parliament approval before the general elections, the BJP underlined that "this is not the right time for reforms" in the wake of the global developments.

Once the 14th Lok Sabha is dissolved next year, all pending bills in Parliament would automatically lapse. This means that the same bills would have to be re-introduced, if at all there is political will, after the new Parliament is formed post the Lok Sabha poll.

"This is a time when we are grappling with the (global economic) situation and we have to allow this to blow over," a senior BJP member said, adding that reforms in the financial sector must wait.

Though Congress insiders said that the UPA would want to wait and watch before taking any step towards reforms, party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that "not reforming can never be good or desirable." However he added that "reforms would have to be tailored to the context and must take a good fit between the problem, panacea and the objective." He also pointed out that Parliament's meeting time from now to the general elections is only a few weeks and it may not be possible for the UPA to take up the crucial bills. However, he added that although it will be "utilised for maximum legislation, time consideration will be there."

In other words, any Bill requiring Parliamentary approval will be shelved.

"The global order is in disorder and this must tide over before any further step in taken," Arun Jaitley of BJP told Hindustan Times. He added that the pause button to reforms must be pressed at this point as convincing people on the same would be difficult.

Meanwhile, Left parties said that they stood vindicated. "There must be honesty and the UPA should now admit that the sector is insulated from the global meltdown primarily because it is largely dominated by the public sector," D Raja of