New Delhi Aug 3 IANS | 5 months ago

The insurance amendment bill, which could not be taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, is to be taken up Monday, official sources said.

The upper house members had sought time to study the proposed changes in the bill, that include increase in the foreign investment limit for the sector to 49 percent from the current 26 percent, approved by the cabinet last month.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu Sunday appealed to opposition parties to cooperate in the successful passage of the insurance amendment bill.

"I appeal to all opposition parties in parliament, particularly the Congress, to cooperate in passing the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 that seeks to enable much desired capital inflows into the insurance sector," Naidu said in a statement.

"Penetration of insurance coverage in the country is being adversely impacted on account of inadequate investments," he added.

Insurance companies have a low level of penetration in the country for want of capital, with life insurance at below 4 percent of GDP and general insurance at less than 1 percent.

The amendment is expected to bring in much needed additional equity to the tune of Rs.25,000 crore to the insurance sector.

While up to 26 percent foreign investment will be allowed automatically, beyond that will require approval through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Control of the insurance venture will have to remain in Indian hands.

Expressing the government's willingness to hold a detailed discussion on the contents of the proposed bill, Naidu said: "I and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley desire to discuss this bill tomorrow (Monday) with leaders of Congress and other opposition parties so as to understand their concerns and address the same."

The Congress is backing the Trinamool Congress and Left parties' proposal to send the bill to the parliamentary Select Committee, which would scuttle any government move to get the legislation passed by convening a joint session of two houses.

The party justified its decision saying that the amendments moved by the NDA government mark "substantive changes" from the original bill that was introduced by the first United Progressive Alliance government in 2008.

Meanwhile, bolstering the government's efforts to get the insurance amendment bill passed, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has decided to support the reforms.

"We have decided to support the insurance bill along with the changes proposed by the government," BJD leader in the Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab said here.

In the 243-member Rajya Sabha, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 59 members and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) which is supporting the reforms has seven members.

(Posted on 04-08-2014)

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