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Monday, November 7, 2011

Govt plans a big push to reforms

NEW DELHI: The finance ministry has lined up an ambitious reform agenda for the Winter Session of Parliament and efforts are on to secure support from Opposition parties to get approval for at least 10 legislations, senior official said.
The move is aimed at deflecting the criticism that a policy paralysis has set in after the series of scandals since last year forced the UPA government on the back foot. "The finance minister has already reached out to Opposition parties seeking support for the 10 bills. There is a significant amount of reforms which will kick in after these bills are approved. We are hopeful that they sail through," a senior finance ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, told TOI.
The 10 key bills include the Indian Stamp Act (Amendment Bill), the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, Life Insurance Corp (Amendment) Bill 2009, the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill 2008, Pension Fund Development Authority PFRDA Bill, Regulation of Factor (assignment of Receivables) Bill 2011, Banking Laws (amendment) Bill, the Exim Bank (amendment) Bill 2011, Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debt laws and the Public Procurement Bill.
Apart from these bills, the finance ministry will also introduce the second supplementary demands for grants and the Appropriation Bill relating to the second supplementary demand. These will enable the government to seek approval of Parliament for additional spending. The insurance laws amendment bill seeks to raise the limit of foreign equity in the sector to 49% from the current 26% and also allow foreign re-insurers to open branches. PFRDA bill aims to provide statutory status to the regulator and set the rules for the pension sector and regulation of the National Pension System.
The Indian Stamp Act aims to amend the 1899 act to allow e-stamping, payment of stamp duty by a variety of means, reduce discretionary powers of officials, increase compliance and plug revenue leakage. Analysts say these are long pending moves which will usher in transparency in several sectors. In recent days the government has taken a series of steps including approval for the National Manufacturing Policy to dispel doubts about the government's ability to move ahead with the economic reforms.
"There are other legislations which will be introduced by other ministries which will give a momentum to the reforms and help in inclusive growth," the finance ministry official said. He also said efforts were at advanced stage to allow FDI in multi-brand retail." The issue needs some more discussion but it will be in place soon," the official said, without giving a time-frame.
The fresh aim at reforms comes after severe criticism from investors and eminent citizens including industrialist Azim Premji. A group of eminent citizens had written an open letter highlighting the policy paralysis, which had set in and how it threatened growth.
Source : The Times of India

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