‘Govt can ask for more FII in insurance’

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SummaryTwo days ahead of the Parliament opening on Thursday, BJP leader and head of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yashwant Sinha, indicated areas where the government could get critical bills passed, provided, he underscored, the government chose not to be obdurate.

that mean we ban FIIs to prevent stock market frauds?

I’m not saying that. In the context of higher FDI in insurance, I’m saying big global insurance firms got caught doing what they shouldn’t have been doing. So we need to be a bit cautious. There is a time for everything, a political environment. I spoke of labour market reforms in 2001, but nothing happened since the time wasn’t right.

Will we able to get other bills through, the Banking Regulation Act for instance?

It can go through if the government agrees to a voting cap of 26% irrespective of the level of shareholding.

So you’ll allow this bill through, which will allow RBI to start processing bank licence applications?

There are 12 pieces of legislation that the Standing Committee on Finance has given its view on, and 11 of these haven’t even been brought before Parliament, and that includes the Companies Bill, so don’t lay everything at the Opposition’s door—and may I reiterate the Standing Committee has more UPA members than Opposition ones.

You say the government is changing the goalposts. What does that mean?

The DTC is a good example. The Standing Committee made a lot of suggestions on GAAR, but Pranab didn’t wait to even consider these and just went ahead. Now, his successor has asked Dr Parthasarathi Shome to give a report on this, and we read he’ll send a note to the PM on this in 10 days. Where does the Standing Committee come in on this?

In the case of the Companies Bill, we gave our suggestions but the government then said it had done another set of consultations and changed the bill, but no one came to the Standing Committee. In the case of the GST, we discussed the Constitutional Amendment and I wanted to give our report by July 27. Due to the turmoil in the finance ministry, this couldn’t be done. But the government is once again talking to the Empowered Committee of state finance ministers… We don’t know whether we should look at the Constitutional Amendment or whether some new thing has to be looked at. In the Land Acquisition Bill, the Standing Committee looked at one thing, and now the government is proposing something else after Sonia Gandhi wanted a different formula for the number of people who need to agree before land is acquired.

What has been the Standing Committee’s view on retrospective taxation?

The Standing Committee didn’t

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