K. Balchand & Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday announced the government's intention to press for a discussion on the Women's Reservation Bill in the current session of Parliament and appealed to Members of Parliament to support the cause of women.

The Bill is likely to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on March 8, coinciding with the International Women's Day.

Dr. Singh said it would be the strongest affirmation of “our” commitment to the empowerment of women. He made the appeal in both Houses while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address to Parliament.

Black money

The Prime Minister also underlined his commitment to bring back black money deposited in foreign countries and outlined the measures taken to combat the menace that had deprived the country of its resources.

As many as 20 countries were identified for reaching agreements on exchange of information and assistance in tax collection. Negotiations with the Bahamas and Bermuda were over, paving the way for signing of agreements.

The government had sought renegotiation of the tax treaty with Switzerland and talks were held in November to finalise a protocol that would allow for obtaining information in specific cases.

On the controversy over pension payment to a section in the armed forces, Dr. Singh said the committee under the Cabinet Secretary had not recommended one-rank one-pension and that five out of seven recommendations were accepted and implemented. He assured the members that the other two recommendations would be implemented soon.

Referring to the Telangana issue, he said the process of carving a State out of Andhra Pradesh was initiated in the wake of aresolution sent by the State that had the consent of all parties. However, subsequent developments underlined the need for broad-based discussions and to forge a consensus on the issue.

“Therefore, the Justice Srikrishna Committee has been formed to take the matter forward. It will take views of all parties and other stakeholders, including industry and trade bodies, farmers, women and students' groups, to find an optimal solution to this complex issue. The committee will prepare a road map and suggest measures to ensure all-round development of all regions of the State. It will submit its report by December 31, 2010,” he said.

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