Govt, Oppn spar over move to amend Fema

The Opposition–Government slugfest over voting on Fema rules continued on Monday as the former sought to counter Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath’s stand that it was enough if amendments were passed by one and not both Houses of Parliament.

The BJP and Left parties insisted that as per Section 48 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema), the rules have to be approved by both the Houses. The government tabled the changed rules in Lok Sabha Friday last. The rules are key for operationalising the policy decision to open foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail to the extent of 51 per cent.

The minister had told a television channel that passage by one House of Fema rules was enough to operationalise FDI. “If one House has passed it, it passes. It does not need both Houses to pass it. That’s what is prescribed in the rules,” Nath had stated.

Taking on Nath, BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu said Fema rules needed to be passed by both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha while CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri, who first raised the issue, reiterated his point.

Naidu said: “What is the need of two Houses if one House was sufficient? This is disregard of Parliament which is made up of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Both are equally important.”

Yechuri remarked: “Section 48 of the Fema makes it absolutely clear that while the regulations lie before Parliament for 30 days, it is the statutory right of a member to raise objections to any amendment. Therefore, voting in both Houses is required.”

He added: “It should be voted separately. If the government is bringing it together (voting on FDI as well as rules of Fema), we will bring amendments later. So, there will be more than one voting on the issue. We have time till next budget session. We have to keep the momentum till then,” he said.

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