More mega-reforms on govt table today
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Maintaining the momentum of its reforms agenda, the UPA government is set to seek cabinet approval Thursday for proposals aimed at further opening the insurance and pension sectors, amending legislation on forward contracts, companies Bill and the competition Act, and creation of a national investment board.
While conceding that the amendments would have to be passed by Parliament, a senior minister said the government had resolved to bury perceptions of a policy paralysis. "When these (Bills) reach Parliament, let us see what happens," he said, referring to some opposition to reform within the UPA.
On insurance, the cabinet will seek approval for amendment of the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, 2008 and raising of FDI to 49 per cent from the existing 26 per cent. The Bill has been pending in the Rajya Sabha as the government has not been able to get the BJP on board, besides facing opposition from allies. More significantly, the proposal goes against the recommendation of the standing committee on finance headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, which has suggested the FDI ceiling in insurance be maintained at 26 per cent.
In the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill 2011, the cabinet will seek to bring amendments to allow 26 per cent FDI in the pension sector. This Bill had been opposed by Mamata Banerjee and the Left.
The cabinet will also seek approval for amendments to the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2010, which seeks to allow trading in commodity derivatives while transforming the role of the Forward Market Commission to an independent regulator. Approvals are also being sought for amendments to the Competition Act and the Companies Bill.
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