BUSINESS

Winter Session of Parliament concludes: Key economic Bills given a miss

Upcoming assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, seem to have influenced the government’s decision not to proceed with the reform oriented economic bills.

The government deviated from its planned legislative agenda for the Winter session of Parliament, which concluded on Wednesday, by not introducing key economic Bills, including the one on privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs), even though it withdrew three pro-reform laws governing agriculture marketing in the face of prolonged protests by farmers. It, however, introduced and passed a Bill, otherwise not listed in the initial business agenda, to link voter rolls with Aadhaar to weed out duplicate voters.

Upcoming assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, seem to have influenced the government’s decision not to proceed with the reform oriented economic bills. The Winter Session, which was adjourned a day earlier than planned, saw introduction of 12 legislative Bills (as against 26 planned) of which 10 were passed.

“The productivity of the (Lower) House during the session was 82%,” Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla said. According to PRS Legislative, the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) for 43% due to frequent disruptions by the opposition on various issues.The government seems to buy more time on the Bill to ban private cryptocurrencies, which remain unregulated in India.

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 is aimed at a facilitative framework for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India. Stock and commodity markets watchdog Sebi might oversee cryptocurrencies and regulate the affairs of exchanges dealing with them, as the government is considering classifying cryptos as financial assets, according to industry sources.

With bank employee unions observing a two-day strike on December 16-17 and more such protests planned ahead of upcoming assembly polls, the government seems to have dropped the plan to introduce a Bill to amend the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts, 1970 and 1980 and incidental amendments to Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to enable privatisation of two public sector banks.

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (Amendment) Bill seeks to make PFRDA the regulator of superannuation funds managed by corporate houses for their employees to bridge the regulatory gap. The Bill also proposes to relax rules to allow more products other than annuity products for the mandatory investment of 40% of the corpus of a subscriber at the time of exit from the national pension system (NPS).

The government intended to introduce the direct benefit transfer (DBT) mechanism through amendments to the Electricity Act to restrict power distribution companies (discoms) from making arbitrary subsidy claims to recover the amount from their respective state governments. The Union power ministry has dropped the plan to disburse electricity subsidies to eligible consumers like farmers and households through the DBT system fearing backlash, sources said.

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