Govt refers bill on insurance sector FDI to select Rajya Sabha panel

The Modi government's push for opening the insurance sector for 49 per cent FDI has suffered a setback. The government has finally given in to the opposition's demand by referring the Insurance Bill to a select panel of the Rajya Sabha.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) didn't have any choice but to send it to a select panel as demanded by not only Congress but also TMC, the Left, SP and BSP.

The government, however, got some of the important bills, including the bill to empower market watchdog Sebi, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill to facilitate the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project, a bill to approve the appointment of former TRAI chairperson Nripendra to PM's office as also the Finance and Appropriations bills.

The insurance bill had to be deferred as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) didn't have any choice but to send it to a select panel as demanded by not only Congress but also the TMC, the Left, SP and the BSP.

The select panel with specific terms of reference will have to give its report latest by the first week of the winter session, possibly around the last week of November.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha member on the insurance panel said, ''We hope to find a consensus. There is a fair degree of unanimity that we need more investment into the economy and opening up the insurance sector, increasing the foreign direct investment (FDI) limits will boost investments and as you know by boosting investments into the insurance sector there are many downstream positive impacts in terms of downstream investments that arise from the insurance sector. So yes, we hope that there will be a consensus and soon.''

Naresh Gujral, Rajya Sabha member on the insurance panel said he didn't expect total unanimity. ''I am not the government, so I don't know what the government will do. We can at best do what we have been asked to do which is participate in the select committee and say what is right for the country. After that it depends upon the parliament and the government,'' added Gujral.

The Parliament, however, passed some important bills at its concluding session today. These include:

  • The Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014, passed by both houses, gives more powers to the Sebi with the specific intention of curbing ponzi schemes;
  • The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2014, passed by both houses, seeks the merger of 236 revenue villages of Khammam district in Telangana with Andhra Pradesh to facilitate the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project;
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Bill, 2014, passed by both houses, basically aims to cement the appointment of former TRAI chairperson Nripendra Misra as principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by amending rules of appointment of former TRAI chairpersons;
  • Finance Bills: These are the bills pertaining to the general and the railways budget which were passed by both houses of parliament, including:
  1. The Appropriation (Railways) No. 2 Bill, 2014
  2. The Appropriation (Railways) No. 3 Bill, 2014
  3. The Appropriation (No. 2) Bill, 2014
  4. The Appropriation (No. 3) Bill, 2014 and
  5. The Finance (No 2) Bill, 2014.
  • The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014, passed by the Lok Sabha, seeks to augment the skilled manpower in the country, allow flexibility to industries to hire apprentices and improve their monetary compensation.
  • The National Institute of Design Bill, 2014, passed by the Lok Sabha, seeks to declare NID as an institution of national importance;