Govt’s financial Bills line-up skips MMDR, land acquisition

Amidst talks of a no-confidence motion or a vote on the FDI issue, the government has lined up key financial sector Bills including long-pending legislations for pension and insurance sector as well as the supplementary demand for grants for the forthcoming winter session of Parliament that begins on Thursday.

But significantly the proposed Land Acquisition Bill and the Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill does not feature in an official list of 25 Bills for consideration and passing and another 10 for introduction during the winter session that was released on Tuesday.

The controversial Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, that was introduced in Parliament in September last year is expected to be taken up by the Cabinet soon, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had said earlier this week. Last month, it was cleared by a group of ministers headed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar. Meanwhile, the MMDR Bill, 2011, that provides for 26 per cent profit-sharing by coal miners with project-affected people is currently being examined by the Standing Committee. Mines minister Dinsha Patel had last month expressed hope that it would be passed in the winter session of Parliament.

The constitutional amendment bill to allow the Centre to tax goods at the retail level and states to tax services as part of the GST rollout plan also does not figure in the list. Government sources said the draft of the Bill is with the subcommittee of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers and hence cannot be placed in Parliament.

The government has, however, decided to move ahead with its reforms agenda through the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill and the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill in the forthcoming session. The two Bills that seek to allow FDI in pension sector as well as enhance the foreign investment limit in insurance to 49 per cent were approved by the Cabinet in October.

Other financial sector Bills including Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Companies Bill are also on the agenda for the winter session. The government will also use the session to introduce the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2012, that will govern mergers in all sectors. Additionally, Forward Contracts (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2010, and the Warehousing Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2011, are also a part of the agenda.

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped government's first supplementary demand for grant will also be moved during the winter session. The finance ministry had abstained from seeking additional funds during the monsoon session. Sources said this is likely to be the only supplementary demand for grant that the government will raise during the fiscal. Usually, a third supplementary is raised in the Budget session. Apart from this, amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, Highways Authority of India Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act will also be taken up for discussion in the winter session.

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