Tuesday 25 October 2016

All-Party Meet on Insurance Bill Fails to Iron Out Differences

New Delhi
File - PTI Photo/TV Grab

An all-party meeting today failed to hammer out a consensus over the controversial Insurance Bill which was scheduled to be taken up in Rajya Sabha.

Leaders agreed to hold a fresh round of consultations in the next two days as the brief meeting in Parliament House remained inconclusive.

"The meeting remained inconclusive. We have agreed to meet again in the next two days to arrive at a consensus on the possible formulation of the legislation," NCP leader Praful Patel, who attended the meeting, told reporters here.

NCP and BJD have decided to support the bill in the form it was cleared by the Union Cabinet recently. Today's meeting was part of the govenment initiative to take opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha on board on the key bill.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu attended the meeting which took place against the backdrop of nine opposition parties giving a notice to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari for referring the bill to a Select Committee.

NDA does not have a majority in the Upper House and will have to seek the support of other parties to move its first major economic reforms legislation for consideration.

With the opposition demanding that the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill be referred to a Select Committee, the government last night had deferred its plan to move the bill for consideration in Rajya Sabha today.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had yesterday said he and the Finance Minister will talk to leaders of Congress and opposition parties on various aspects of the bill that seeks to raise the FDI cap in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent.

Naidu had appealed to the opposition to cooperate in passing the bill, saying the government is ready to consider any "meaningful suggestions" of the opposition.

"I fervently appeal to Congress and other opposition parties to enable passing the proposed legislation for enabling 49 per cent foreign investment in insurance sector, in this Budget Session of Parliament in the larger national interest.

"Spirit of constructive cooperation on issues of economic development need to be the basis of parliamentary democracy," he had told reporters in Hyderabad.

Naidu had said the bill seeks to provide for the much desired capital inflows into the insurance sector since the penetration of insurance coverage in the country is being adversely impacted on account of inadequate investments.

Congress, CPI-M, CPI, SP, BSP, DMK, JD (U), Trinamool Congress and RJD have given a notice to the Rajya Sabha Chairman for referring the bill to a Select Committee.

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