S&P cut may be boon for PFRDA, insurance Bills

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 26 2012, 07:48am hrs
The Standard and Poors revision of Indias rating outlook to negative may be bad news for the economy but could just give the fillip needed to clear at least two economic Bills in this Budget session, namely the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill (PFRDA) and the insurance laws Bill. The bad news is, however, that it may just stop at that.

According to leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, the BJP has been approached by the government on the former with firm proposals and amendments. We had two main issues, one dealing with the mention of a cap of 26% in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Act itself rather than in the rules, which the government has agreed to and secondly that pensioners should be given the option of investing in fixed-return or equity-based plans, she said. The government will be bringing amendments to this effect in the Bill, she added.

The main order of business till May 7 will be the clearing of the finance Bill. The discussions on grants to various ministries will be done by May 3 after which the finance Bill will be debated and passed, she said. We have not been approached yet on the insurance Bill but the partys views are clear through various meetings with the finance minister, she said.

Her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, termed the downgrading as a direct result of a lack of authority of the Prime Minister to take economic decisions and a lack of courage of leadership. The mood in the government is downbeat and as I have said earlier its a government in a sulk over decisions, he said. Resources are being spent on votes rather than growth and the government doesnt appear to be prepared to attempt a consensus either with the allies or the Opposition, he said. While he conceded that the BJP would support the government on these two Bills, he added that any other cooperation from them would require an attitude change from the government.

FE also spoke to chairman of the standing committee on rural development, Sumitra Mahajan of the BJP, who said that the report on land acquisition Bill will be finalised next week. Sources in the ministry however said it appears unlikely that the Bill could be tabled anytime soon since a major ally of the government, the Trinamool Congress, was likely to oppose any role of the state government in land acquisition, which the BJP supported.