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Insurance Bill: Govt firm, Opposition defiant

Jaitley was categorical when he stated at a Ficci event that his government is “extremely determined” to push insurance sector reforms and would not brook any opposition.

“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 per cent to 49 per cent, 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 on Friday introduced the GST bill in Lok Sabha, which will create a single tax for goods and services across the country from April 2016. Trinamool Congress today hit back at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his veiled attack on it accusing it of creating obstructions in the Rajya Sabha and said BJP should fight the party politically and not make it a “slanging match”.

“BJP should fight us politically. Don’t play these dirty games, Mr.Jaitley. Don’t make it a street-slanging match: TMC leader and Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien tweeted. “Jaitley cannot use weekend bytes to try and put spin to things. Not at all. Not acceptable”, he said referring to Jaitley’s comment at a function in Delhi this morning that a political party, whose members are allegedly involved in a chit fund scam, is trying to divert attention by creating obstruction in Rajya Sabha. “BJP is now trying to find the villain of the piece and pass the buck on to Trinamool”, “O’Brien said. “On the floor of the Rajya Sabha, political reality is there. BJP should pull up old records and see how they used to disrupt the RS”, he said.

RS stalemate: Govt puts onus on oppn
As the current Winter session of Parliament enters the final lap with only two scheduled sittings left next week the government has blamed the Opposition for the Rajya Sabha impasse which  is still to take up crucial Bills relating to facilitation of auction of coal blocks, enhancing FDI limit in the capital starved insurance sector and enabling extension of  Delhi Special Provisions Act that expires by the end of this month.

Marking a sharp contrast in the functioning of the two Houses of Parliament during the first four weeks of the Winter session, Lok Sabha functioned for over 126 hours during the stipulated 20 sittings with a productivity of over 105%. As against this, the productivity of Rajya Sabha has been only 68%. During this period, Lok Sabha has passed 17 Bills as against only 11 by the Upper House. Lok Sabha has lost only 2 hours and 10 minutes so far due to interruptions.

The Lower House witnessed interruptions during five of the 20 sittings losing time in the range of 12 to 55 minutes on each of these days. The House however, worked over time on eight days for a total additional duration of 8 hours 36 minutes with a net gain of additional working hours of 6 hous 26 minutes. Rajya Sabha on the other hand witnessed interruptions during 15 of the 19 sittings (for which data is available) losing a total time of 44 hours 09 minutes. Time lost on each day of such interruptions ranged from 45 minutes to 323 minutes (5 hours 23 minutes). However, members of the Upper House worked over time on seven days making up 8 hours 46 minutes. The net loss of time on account of interruptions in Rajya Sabha has been 35 hours 38 minutes.
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