Centre likely to keep insurance bill off Rajya Sabha today

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 4 2014, 15:25pm hrs
WITH the Opposition unrelenting on its demand for referring the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill to a Select Committee of Parliament, the government is unlikely to take it up in Rajya Sabha Monday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu will meet leaders of opposition parties Monday morning in a bid end the stalemate.

Almost all opposition parties, barring the BJD, have demanded that the Bill hanging fire for several years be sent to a Select Committee arguing that the amendments moved by the government are substantial and require fresh scrutiny.

Naidu Sunday reached out to several leaders appealing them to allow the passage of the bill, which seeks to raise the FDI ceiling in the insurance sector from the present 26 per cent to 49 per cent, in the current session of Parliament. Although the Bill has been included in Mondays list of business, sources said it will not be taken up because of absence of consensus. Naidu spoke to Congresss Anand Sharma and many other leaders in the Opposition.

Sharma, the former commerce minister and the Congresss deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, told The Indian Express that the Opposition does not understand the tearing hurry shown by the government. He said the Bill should be sent to a Select Committee as demanded by most of the opposition parties. Select Committee is always time-bound. It would not take years to give its suggestions, Sharma said.

He said the Bill is silent about the changes suggested by the Standing Committee on Finance which was headed by BJPs Yashwant Sinha. The government cannot make substantive changes without consulting with parties, he said.

The NDA government is in a minority in the Upper House.

Naidu said the government would discuss with opposition parties before taking a final call on taking up the bill in Rajya Sabha. The government would be happy to discuss with the Congress and other parties about this bill. I propose to meet important opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha tomorrow, along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The government is willing to consider meaninful suggestions, if any, he said.