Pension regulatory bill set to sail smoothly through LS

Pension regulatory bill set to sail smoothly through LS

Pranab Mukherjee

Finance minister and Lok Sabha Leader Pranab Mukherjee held a discussion with top BJP leaders on the Pensions Fund Regulatory Development Authority Bill as well as  the Companies Bill and accepted some of the suggestions made by them.  Following this, the Pensions Bill will be moved in Lok Sabha for consideration and passing on December 21 while a new Companies' Bill will be re-drafted and introduced in Parliament.

At the meeting held on Monday morning, Mukherjee informed BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Yashwant Sinha that he wanted their party’s support for the two Bills.

The government, sources say, is confident of convincing the  UPA ally Trinamool Congress which has expressed its reservations on some of the provisions of the Pensions Bill.

The government is understood to have agreed to the BJP demand for inclusion of assured returns to retired employees in Pensions Bill. The Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Sinha, had recommended for an assured return option to new subscribers.

Pensioners are concerned over the fate of their hard-earned money as the new bill proposes to invest the pension funds in the market. The proposed Bill does not ensure guaranteed return to pensioners. The bill will provide legal backing for putting pension funds into stock markets.

The government also agreed to the BJP’s demand for defining the quantum of FDI in PFRDA in the Act itself instead of bringing it through an Executive decision. The BJP had made it clear that it would oppose the Bill if this provision is not included. The panel had sought a specified FDI cap in the Bill while the government was of the view that FDI cap in the pension should be at 26 per cent at par with the insurance sector.

At present, pension funds of over 10 lakh employees in the country are managed by domestic players such as Life Insurance Corporation of India, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Reliance Capital, but foreign companies have evinced interest in the country’s pension market.  The PFRDA bill, if passed, will open country’s lucrative pension sector to foreign players.

On the Companies Bill, government conceded to the BJP’s demand for allowing Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) which would enable a group comprising only of professionals from one category like Chartered Accountants, or Company Secretaries, etc. to form their own company.

Companies Bill was listed for passage on Monday in the Lower House but the government did not move it.

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