Second Round Of Reforms On Cabinet Agenda Tomorrow

In another round of big-ticket reforms, the Union Cabinet will consider on Thursday raising the FDI cap in insurance sector to 49% and opening the pension sector to foreign investment besides creation of a National Investment Board. The Cabinet will also consider a number of other crucial measures like giving more powers to commodity market regulator FMC, Competition Bill to bring all sectors under Companies Act, and model tripartite agreement for operationalising the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF), sources said.

This is the second time within a month that the cabinet would consider such major proposals to push reform initiative.

On September 13, the government had approved the controversial decision of allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, besides relaxing FDI norms for civil aviation and broadcasting sector.
While the Insurance Bill seeks to raise the FDI cap insurance sector to 49%, from the 26% at present, the proposal in the Pension Fund regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill seeks to open up the pension sector to foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Besides, the NIB, to be headed by the Prime Minister, is proposed to be set up for according fast-track clearances to infrastructure projects.

The Forward Contract Regulation Act (Amendment) Bill that aims to give more powers to commodity markets regulator FMC.

The Bill seeks to strengthen Forward Market Commission (FMC) by providing it financial autonomy, facilitate the entry of institutional investors and introduce new products for trading such as options and indices.

The Union Cabinet is also likely to approve on Thursday, the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) document that proposes to lower annual average economic growth rate target during the period to 8.2% from 9% envisaged earlier in view of fragile recovery.

The Cabinet is also expected to consider proposal from the civil aviation ministry for approving Lucknow, Varanasi, Tiruchirapalli, Mangalore and Coimbatore as international airports.

Besides, it would also take up the proposal from the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) to amend the Competition Act 2002 and amendments to the Companies Bill, 2011, following the report of the Standing Committee.

The proposal for IDF before the Cabinet includes a tripartite agreement between developer, lender (bank) and the IDF. The loans by the banks would be refinanced by the IDF so that banks have free funds for more lending.

The IDF, which was proposed in the Union Budget for 2011-12 fiscal, is aimed at accelerating and enhancing flow of long term debt for funding the ambitious programme of infrastructure development in the country.

Besides, the Cabinet would also take up the proposal of amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Armenia and Poland.

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