In the Parliament: Session not ending; Finance Bill moved to next week

New Delhi: The Government on Friday decided not to wind up the budget session of Parliament as indicated in talks with the Opposition as it shifted the Finance Bill related to the 2021-22 budget from Friday to the next week for consideration and stated a long list of other legislations to be passed in both the Houses during the coming week. A bill to amend the law governing Delhi to give powers to the Lt Governor and force the Chief Minister to obtain his prior approval for any action, including any resolution to be brought in Delhi Assembly and a controversial insurance bill to raise the FDI in insurance from 49% to 74% in the insurance companies are among 10 Bills listed for consideration by the Lok Sabha the next week.

The Rajya Sabha's agenda for the next week includes consideration and return of the Finance Bill 2021 after it is passed by the Lok Sabha as also return of the appropriation bills on the budget for the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry. Eight Bills are also listed for consideration and passage by the Rajya Sabha next week.

‘Insurance Bill akin to East India Company rule’

The Opposition parties, who walked out en masse in Rajya Sabha on Thursday at the stage of passage of the Insurance Amendment Bill after forcing three adjournments, cited how the Bill raising foreign investment from existing 49% to 74% has a dangerous provisions to allow foreign ownership and control on the insurance companies. Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters that this is akin to the East India Company of the Britishers investing in India and then imposing its govt for at least 150 years. –Our Bureau

‘Rly infra will not be privatised‘

The govt on Friday said in Rajya Sabha that railways infrastructure will never be privatised but it plans to monetise its assets to generate resources to boost growth. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal also said that passenger train operations taken up through Public Private Partnership (PPP) is targeted to bring a total investment of about Rs 30,000 cr.

The Ministry of Railways plans to monetise assets including through Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors after commissioning, induction of 150 modern rakes through PPP, station redevelopment through PPP, railway land parcels, multi-functional complexes (MFC), railway colonies, hill railways and stadiums, Goyal said during the Question Hour.

"Asset monetisation would help in generating more resources towards infrastructure creation. Passenger train operations taken up through Public Private Partnership (PPP) is targeted to bring a total investment of about ? 30,000 crore," Goyal said.

Replying to a supplementary asked by Jairam Ramesh of the Congress, Goyal said he felt the Opposition member was not able to understand the difference between privatisation and monetisation.

"When you privatise, you sell off the assets permanently and it no more remains a part of the government ownership. In the railways, the plan to is monetise in terms of how it will generate resources, further investment and growth. The infrastructure of Indian Railways will never be privatised," Goyal said.

The Railways Minister said dedicated freight corridors are a separate corporate entity and the railways is supporting them. "The Railways is supporting but is not the owner of tracks that the DFC is laying .If we raise funds by leasing them, giving them out to private sector to use in the interim period we are doing a service to the nation," the minister said.

The Ministry of Railways is committed towards enhancing the pace of infrastructure development, which is vital for the national economy as a whole, he said.

The railways would always be a key economic driver in the strategy of investment-led economic growth, he said. The minister said assets monetisation involves various transaction processes, and the investment expected depends on the outcome of bidding process open to public and private sectors. "Therefore, the actual investment expected from private and public sectors cannot be ascertained as of now," he added. Goyal said modern train is the need of the day, and the railways has got historic Rs 2.15 lakh crore allotment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

If a road is built, everyone uses it, similarly if a pipeline is built by GAIL and they only use it, it will be misused, he said.

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