Monday, July 25, 2011

Insurance,pensionBills unlikely to getfinance panel nod beforeHouse session

New Delhi: A day after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed hope that at least some key economic Bills will be enacted soon, two key financial sector reforms Bills — on insurance and pension — are unlikely to be cleared by the Standing Committee on Finance in time for the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament that starts from August 1.

While the committee is yet to finalise its views on the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill 2008, it held its first meeting on Thursday to discuss the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, 2011 and is understood to have asked the finance ministry some tough questions on its intentions regarding the pension sector.
“Neither of the Bills will be ready for discussion in the Monsoon session as the committee is still working on them,” a person close to the development said. The panel however is likely to finalise its report on the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011, which seeks to raise the ceiling on voting rights of shareholders of nationalised banks to 10 per cent
Both the insurance and pension bills are long pending and keenly awaited as they are expected to further liberalise the investment environment. While the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, 2008 seeks to hike the foreign direct investment limit in the sector to 49 per cent from the existing 26 per cent, the PFRDA Bill which was tabled in the Budget session of Parliament seeks statutory backing for the pension regulator but is silent on the issue of FDI.
The Parliamentary panel, which is led by former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha is however understood to have asked the finance ministry its plans regarding FDI in pension funds and has also sought clarifications regarding the structure and powers of the proposed pension regulator.
“The Bill has sought to empower the PFRDA to take most of the important decisions. The committee is keen to know more about its functions as well as the New Pension Scheme,” the person said.

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