Govt to amend banking laws to facilitate privatisation of two PSU banks

The Finance minister while presenting Budget 2021-22 earlier this year had announced the privatisation of PSBs as part of disinvestment drive

New Delhi

To facilitate privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs), the government is all set to introduce a banking laws amendment bill in the upcoming Winter Session starting Monday.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting Budget 2021-22 earlier this year had announced the privatisation of PSBs as part of disinvestment drive to garner Rs 1.75 lakh crore.

The Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to be introduced during the session is expected to bring down the minimum government holding in the PSBs from 51 per cent to 26 per cent, sources said.

However, sources said a final call in this respect would be taken by the Union Cabinet when it would vet the proposed legislation.

"To effect amendments in Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts, 1970 and 1980 and incidental amendments to Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in the context of Union Budget announcement 2021 regarding privatisation of two Public Sector Banks," according to the list of legislative business for the Winter Session.

These Acts led to the nationalisation of banks in two phases and provisions of these laws have to be changed for the privatisation of banks, sources said.

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In the last concluded session, Parliament passed a bill to allow privatisation of state-run general insurance companies.

The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021, removed the requirement of the central government to hold at least 51 per cent of the equity capital in a specified insurer.

The Act, which came into force in 1972, provided for the acquisition and transfer of shares of Indian insurance companies and undertakings of other existing insurers in order to serve better the needs of the economy by securing the development of general insurance business.

Government think-tank NITI Aayog has already suggested two banks and one insurance company to Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment for privatisation.

According to sources, Central Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank are likely candidates for the privatisation.

As per the process, the Core Group of Secretaries, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, will send its recommendation to Alternative Mechanism (AM) for its approval and eventually to the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister for the final nod.

The members of the Core Group of Secretaries include economic affairs secretary, revenue secretary, expenditure secretary, corporate affairs secretary, legal affairs secretary, Department of Public Enterprises secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) secretary and an administrative department secretary.

First Published: Nov 25 2021 | 9:48 PM IST