The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance parties say they’ll support the Union government in passing important financial sector legislation in the ongoing Budget session of Parliament.
But with a rider — the recommendations of the standing committees of the legislature which scrutinised these should be respected. The standing committee on finance (SCF) is chaired by the BJP’s Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister. The legislations in question, which the government has listed a priority, are those on insurance, pension, banking and commodity futures reforms.
“We want to help the government in passing important bills and we want that the house is not stalled because of us, but the government should not treat us like slaves,” said a senior NDA leader. Adding, as an illustration, on the bribery allegation made by the army chief: “The opposition parties were demanding the government make a statement in Parliament. Yet, the government decided to order a CBI inquiry without telling the House(s), at a time when Parliament is in session.”
Besides the Bills mentioned earlier, Mukherjee had listed seven financial sector bills to be introduced in this session. These are The Micro Finance Institutions (Development and Regulation) Bill, the National Housing Bank (Amendment) Bill, the Small Industries Development Bank of India (Amendment) Bill, the Nabard Bill, the Regional Rural Banks Bill, the Indian Stamp Act (amendment) Bill and the Public Debt Management Agency of India Bill.
The point about respecting the SCF reports while moving on with the legislations in question is not a minor one. It has, for instance, rejected a key clause in the insurance Bill, to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in private insurance from the existing 26 per cent to 49 per cent. It also turned down a key clause in the banking Bill, to raise the cap on voting rights of a single shareholder in government-run banks to 10 per cent from the existing one per cent, and in other banks from the existing 10 per cent to a level proportionate to the stake.
And, on the pension reforms Bill, the committee had declined to accept the government’s desire to keep the FDI component out of the purview of legislation. On the Direct Taxes Code, the standing committee has suggested sweeping changes in the Bill moved by the government, making things easier for the payer. It had gone into various details in this regard.