FM confident Insurance, Pension Bills passed this session

FM confident Insurance, Pension Bills passed this session New Delhi: Hopeful of securing BJP's backing to key financial sector legislation, Finance Minister P Chidambaram Sunday expressed confidence that Insurance and Pension Bills will be passed in the current Budget session of Parliament.

"I am reasonably confident that we would be able to pass the Insurance Bill and the Pension Bill in the current session," he told in an interview.

"We are making progress...I think the consultations we are having with the BJP, that is the principal opposition party, and then we will have it with other parties (for the passage of these two key Bills)," he said.

In the last session, the government was able to get Banking Laws Amendment Bill and Sarfaesi (The Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Act) Bill passed.

Initially, there was opposition from various parties on some of the provisions of the Bill like forward contracts clause of the Banking Laws Amendment Bill. After the government dropped those contentious provisions, the Bill got approved by Parliament on the last day of the winter session.

Insurance Bill seeks to raise foreign investment cap in the sector from 26 percent to 49 percent, while the pension bill too aims to increase it to same level among other things.

The Insurance Laws (amendment) Bill, 2008 had provided for an increase in foreign investment limit to 49 percent. However, the standing committee on finance headed by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha did not favour the hike in FDI ceiling, indicating wide opposition to this increase in the limit.

After considering the recommendations, the Union Cabinet in October decided to go with 49 percent foreign investment limit.

Last year, the Cabinet also approved Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill.

The Bill provides powers to the PFRDA to oversee multiple pension funds in the country and also paves way for being a full-time regulator for the sector.

It also provides for establishment of a statutory authority to undertake promotional, developmental and regulatory functions in respect to pension funds.