Committed to liberalising insurance: PM

FPPrime Minister Manmohan Singh with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday. PTI

With Germany underlining insurance sector reforms in India as "undeniably an important subject matter" for concluding the India-EU free trade agreement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said New Delhi is committed to liberalisation of the insurance sector but the move needs to be approved by Parliament.

"With regard to the reforms of the insurance sector, I have explained to the Chancellor and to our colleagues on the German side that we are committed to liberalisation of the insurance sector cap on FDI equity participation," Singh said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Our Cabinet has already approved a proposal to raise the level of foreign equity participation from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, but this requires parliamentary legislation," he said.

At their talks on Wednesday evening, the two leaders had candid discussions on the issue, at the end of which Merkel is learnt to have remarked: "We do understand how oppositions react before elections."

Later, in his address at the closing ceremony of the 'Days of India in Germany' - a series of events paying tribute to 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries - Singh referred to "intense debates" back home over certain reform measures.

"The trials of the global economy have led to repercussions in India as well and our economic growth has slowed down. In response, our government has considered several measures to revive the engines of growth," Singh said.

"In a country of India's size, diversity and complexity, intense debates on the policy choices we make are inevitable. But these debates have not stopped us from taking the hard decisions in the long term interest of our country and our people. In fact, we welcome the debates for the value that they add to our policies and thus make them more durable," he said.

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