Trinamool Congress red flags another bill

Trinamool Congress on Thursday again proved a stumbling block to UPA government’s policy initiatives as the regional outfit forced the Union Cabinet to defer consideration of the much-awaited Forward Contract Regulation Act (Amendment) Bill.

The Bill aims to give more powers to commodity markets regulator Forward Market Commission (FMC) and  strengthen it by providing financial autonomy, facilitating the entry of institutional investors and introducing new products for trading such as options and indices.

Sources said the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was informed that TMC had written to the PM at the last minute expressing reservations against the Bill. Before bringing the Bill to the Cabinet, wide consultations had been done and even the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee had been accepted, sources told Deccan Herald. 

The sources added that there was nothing significant in the objections of the Mamata Banerjee-led party. According to them, the UPA ally was only trying to prove its clout to the Centre. However, TMC sources defended their action saying that they wanted more consultation on the Bill. 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report submitted in December 2011, had suggested greater autonomy to FMC that also regulates both spot and futures commodity exchanges.

It had also suggested allowing financial institutions and banks, mutual funds, and insurance companies to participate in forward market so as to ensure better price discovery and lower volatility.

Sources in the Government said Food Minister K V Thomas would talk to the TMC leadership and clear their doubts. In the past, when the TMC expressed reservations against the National Food Security Bill, which is now being considered by a Parliamentary committee, Thomas had spoken to the West TMC leaders and clarified their doubts. 

Due to opposition from the TMC, several key proposals of the UPA Government have been languishing, including foreign direct investment in retail sector and three major bills such as Pension Fund and Regulatory Development Authority Bill (PFRDA) and the Insurance and Banking amendment bills.

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