A day after introducing the long-pending GST Bill in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday said the government is “extremely determined” to push insurance sector reforms and will not allow political obstructionism to stop it.
“The government is extremely determined to go ahead with this (insurance sector) reform and will not allow a Parliamentary disturbance to obstruct or delay a reform of this kind,” he said while addressing a Ficci function.
Without naming Trinamool Congress, Jaitley said that the political party, whose members are allegedly involved in chit fund scam, is trying to divert the attention by creating obstruction in the functioning of Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority of its own.
The Minister regretted that although the insurance bill, which seeks to raise FDI cap from 26 percent to 49 percent, was approved by Standing Committee of Parliament and Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, “political obstructionism is being used to ensure it does not come on the agenda of Parliament.”
Observing that such attitude cannot stop a reform which has support of overwhelming majority, Jaitley said, “there are enough safeguards, and constitutional system can deal with and effectively defeat this policy of political obstructions.”
Jaitley said that with more and more state assemblies going to polls, the ability of the members in the Rajya Sabha to create obstruction will get “further diluted.”
Coal bill is another important legislation which is being held up due to political obstructionism in the Rajya Sabha, he said, adding “it is a bill which has been unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha. All doubts have been cleared. It was not allowed to come on the agenda of Upper House for discussion.”
After prolonged delay, Jaitley yesterday introduced the GST bill in Lok Sabha, which will create a single tax for goods and services across the country from April 2016.
Jaitley said coal is the other important reform that the new government is pursuing, but is “held back because of political obstructionism”.
“The whole object seems to be don’t allow these legislations to come up for debate…And the reason for political obstructionism is one political party finds its members involved in something which is unsavoury and therefore to divert attention from that use obstructionism as an instrument,” he said.
He also took a jibe at left parties, saying Rajya Sabha seems to be their last bastion.
Legislative business has been affected in the Upper House for the past few days because of stand off between Opposition and government over the religious conversion issue.
Opposition is demanding reply on the matter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is not acceptable to the government. The Finance Minister, who would be presenting his first full budget in February, also said there is a need for a shared national vision because that is what the country needs to get back to 9-10 percent growth rate.
“The clear choice before us is, either we reform or we miss the bus once again. The new government… are absolutely clear about one fact that the course that we have adopted is unalterable and therefore despite various challenges which are thrown our way, we are extremely clear about the direction which we have to follow…,” he said.
Referring to taxation, Jaitley said the new government has “eliminated” the fear of retrospective taxation which had brought a bad name for the country.
“There is slowdown in very large part of the world, investors are looking to come into India. We still have a large number of areas where we have to reform and therefore for the next decade we can have an agenda full on our table,” he said.
Jaitley further said the next fiscal is going to be a challenging one as the country strives for higher growth. “It is a year where we have to first cross the 6 percent mark in terms of growth rate, improve upon our revenues, give a greater life as far as our citizens are concerned and in that environment of enthusiasm that is created, more and more changes that will lead us to double digit target,” he said.
Jaitley said the Prime Minister himself is looking into the stalled projects to fast track them.