Cabinet approves ordinances on coal, insurance

Less than 24 hours after Parliament adjourned sine die for the winter session with key legislations left pending due to disruptions, the Narendra Modi Government pushed through insurance and coal sector reforms by approving promulgation of ordinances for both on Wednesday morning.

“The coal allocation ordinance was passed by the Lok Sabha but it was not allowed to be taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha. That ordinance has been re-promulgated,” Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters in the afternoon, shortly after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended.

It will facilitate e-auction of coal blocks to private companies for captive use and allot mines directly to PSUs. The process for auctioning the first set of 24 coal mines will begin tomorrow, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup later said.

Jaitley added that with the insurance amendment bill pending “for a long time” the government had decided to promulgate an ordinance that raises the FDI cap in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent. “Now it has the force of law.” The Standing Committee in Parliament had approved the bill after which a Rajya Sabha select committee approved it for passage with “some modifications.” Jaitley said: “The ordinance is exactly and ad verbatim the reccomendations of the Select Committee. So what has been recommended by an overwhelming majority has been promulgated,” he said.

The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill that sought to replace an earlier ordinance was passed by the Lok Sabha in the winter session but did not come up for discussion due to disruptions in the Rajya Sabha. Coal minister Piyush Goyal said, “Over all about 100 mines will be allocated so that we can bring down the import of thermal coal and eliminate it in two to three years’ time.”

The Cabinet had earlier this month cleared a proposal to raise the FDI cap in insurance. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, that had been listed in the legislative business of the Rajya Sabha was not passed till the house adjourned yesterday, due to frequent disruptions, frustrating the government’s efforts to turn it into law. The move to raise FDI is expected to inject between six to eight billion US dollars into the insurance sector through FDI. Article 123 of the Constitution provides for promulgation of ordinances by the President during recess of Parliament when “circumstances render it necessary.” Asked about the urgency for the ordinance while the bill is pending in Parliament, Jaitley said: “Too much delay caused the urgency.”

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 2:34:56 PM |

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