Govt initiates efforts for consensus on Insurance Bill

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As part of efforts to reach a consensus over the controversial Insurance Bill, the govenment today took the initiative of meeting opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha where the measure's consideration has been deferred.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu are meeting the leaders in the wake 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 consideration of 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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