Insurance bill cleared in Rajya Sabha

The Narendra Modi government managed to push through its first financial sector reform with the Rajya Sabha also approving the bill to raise foreign investment limit in insurance business to 49 per cent from 26 per cent at present.

With the opposition Congress party also supporting the bill, the upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, voted the bill late today to allow more foreign investment in the insurance sector.

The lower House of Parliament, the Lok Sabha, had passed the Bill on 4 March. The bill will now go to the President's office for his signing it into law

The bill will replace the ordinance issued by the government earlier, which had come under sharp attack from various quarters.

The bill amends the Insurance Act, 1938 and the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999.

The passage of the bill must have come as a major relief for the Modi government, which is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha.

The bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha today and members of the House had questioned the technicalities of the introduction of the bill.

Left parties, the TMC and SP questioned as to how a new bill could be introduced when a similar legislation of 2008, which was scrutinised by a Select Committee of Parliament, was pending.

The House had to be twice adjourned, once for 10 minutes and then again for 30 minutes.

The bill was finally then taken up for consideration and the previous Bill was withdrawn by minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha.

The passage of the bill is perhaps the first taste of success for the Modi government, which came to power in May last year on a promise of economic reforms that would bring jobs and economic growth.