FM confident of pushing insurance Bill in Winter session

The government will push the long pending insurance bill in the Winter session of Parliament, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday.

PTI| Updated: Nov 01, 2013, 20:16 PM IST

New Delhi: The government will push the long pending insurance bill, which seeks to raise FDI cap in the sector to 49 percent from 26 percent in the Winter session of Parliament, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday.

He said the government has secured the support of the principal opposition party (BJP) for the passage of the insurance Bill.

"The opposition parties have promised me they will pass the insurance Bill... Most parties, including the principal opposition party, have expressed their support for insurance bill. I hope with majority support, if not unanimous support, we will be able to pass the insurance bill," he said.

The Insurance Bill seeks to raise FDI in insurance sector to 49 percent has been pending in Rajya Sabha since 2008. The Standing Committee, to which it was referred earlier, has already given its report to the Parliament.

The Winter session may start in early December, after the completion of assembly elections in five states.

Chidambaram further exuded confidence that the government would be able to pass about a dozen Bills, including that on securities market, in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

The Sebi Laws Amendment Bill seeks to give more powers to market regulator Sebi.

On the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) Bill, Chidambaram said, the Finance Ministry will move a supplementary note to Cabinet making some more official amendments to the DTC Bill.

"It is then for Cabinet to take a call if they permit us to introduce the official amendments in the Winter Session and take up the DTC Bill," he said.

The final draft of the DTC Bill, which has to be vetted by the Cabinet, keeps the income tax exemption limit unchanged at Rs 2 lakh for individuals. It proposes to introduce a fourth slab with a 35 per cent tax rate for those with an annual income of over Rs 10 crore.

To a question on retrospective tax issue, Chidambaram said, amendments to the Income Tax Act would be introduced in Parliament only after the Rs 11,200 crore-Vodafone tax case was resolved.

The government has sought a non-binding conciliation with the British Telecom major Vodafone to resolve the tax issue ensuing retrospective amendment to the Income Tax Act in 2012.

"The question is how we move forward... Amendment (to the IT Act) has to be moved but I can move that amendment only after the Vodafone case is resolved," he said.

British telecom major Vodafone is facing a tax liability of over Rs 11,200 crore, along with interest, on its 2007 acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa's stake in Hutchison Essar.

Vodafone had earlier expressed its keenness to reach an amicable settlement on the matter.

Vodafone had offered to settle the dispute through conciliation to which government agreed, but there are differences over the rules under which it would take place.

"We are very clear in mind what we want to achieve is reconciliation. We want to achieve a settlement that is fair and that will be acceptable to Parliament... So we are very clear. I think they are also clear on what they want to achieve, I think they are not clear by the process by which they want to achieve it," Chidambaram said.