Govt seeks Cong support for Insurance Bill; open to "meaningful" suggestions

Written by PTI | Hyderabad | Updated: Aug 4 2014, 04:40am hrs
Venkaiah NaiduThe government would be happy to discuss with Congress and other parties about this bill, says Vekaiah Naidu. (PTI)
With the Insurance(amendment) bill expected to be introduced in Rajya Sabha tomorrow, Government today said it is ready to consider any "meaningful" suggestions and appealed to Congress and other opposing parties to support the key reforms move for its passage in the current Budget session itself.

The appeal by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu came even as CPI said that all trade unions, including the BJP affiliate Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, in insurance sector will go on a strike tomorrow to protest the NDA government's move to raise the FDI cap in the sector to 49 per cent.

"The government would be happy to discuss with Congress and other parties about this bill. I propose to meet the important opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha tomorrow, along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The government is willing to consider meaninful suggestions, if any, from opposition parties.

"That's why I fervently appeal to Congress and other parties to see the reason and support the bill in this budget session itself," Naidu told reporters. The bill is expected to be introduced in Rajya Sabha tomorrow.

The amendments proposed to the pending legislation (the bill was first introduced in 2008) on the insurance sector are based on recommendations of the Standing Committee of Parliament, he said.

The proposed bill, which seeks to raise FDI cap in the sector to 49 per cent from the present 26 per cent, was sought to be tabled on Thursday last, but the government agreed to move it tomorrow as Congress and other parties wanted "adequate" time to study the proposed amendments, he said.

Congress or other parties should not have problem in supporting the bill as it was proposed by the previous UPA government, Naidu maintained.

"The spirit of the recommendations of the Standing Committee has been accepted by the government and we have proposed the amendments accordingly. It was mostly a bill proposed by the Congress party and its government and drafted by P Chidambaram, former Finance Minister.

"So, there should not be any problem for Congress or other parties to support the bill, unless they are ideologically opposed to it," the minister said.

With numbers stacked up against the BJP-led NDA, the Government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha.

The Trinamool Congress and Left while opposing the Bill have proposed it be sent to a House Select Committee.

"Almost 1 lakh employees across the country will strike work tomorrow as the government's move will not only dilute the vitality of insurance sector but also pave the way for foreign capital coming into the most sensitive zone of the economy," CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said.