8:02 pm : “Government has taken steps to get rid of bottlenecks”
Planning Commission Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said that time was spent to create consensus and none of the measures taken by the govt are anti-people.
7: 54 pm: CCEA approves scheme to extend subsidised pulses and edible oil to BPL card-holders
In addition, the subsidy scheme will also include imported edible oil. Cabinet has also allowed export of 20,000 MT of branded edible oil in 5kg packets for Indian diaspora in Middle East.
7:44 pm: Cabinet approves draft of 12th five year plan
The document will be placed before National Development Council. The Cabinet also approved constitution of 20th law commission.
7:41 pm: Amendments to Companies Bill approved. Replaces 1956 Act.
Bill designed for 21st century, takes note of companies’ explosion in India, says Chidambaram.
7: 36 pm: Insurance Public sector insurance firms will remain as PSUs
Cabinet has approved the hike in insurance to 49%
7:31 pm: Cabinet has approved hike in risk allowance to Central govt employees
Apart from risk allowance, Cabinet has also approved hospital care allowance.
7.30 pm: Five new international airports on the anvil
Chidambaram announced the construction of five new airports.
6:56 pm: BJP opposes FDI cap hike from 26 percent to 49 percent
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha Panel will scrutinise both pension and insurance bills.
6:40 pm: Here’s what the PFRDA chairman had to say about the reforms
PFRDA’s Yogesh Agarwal says foreign investors are already showing interest in investing in the pension sector.
6:30 pm: BJP offers ray of hope to back the decisions taken
If you’re staring a little goggle-eyed at the headline, don’t. It’s true. The BJP has said it could back the legislation, if all its caveats are met.
“Congress has suddenly changed…In the last 10 years the IPOs of insurance companies have not come out yet. ” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
“We have told the government that if you address our concerns then we will back your decisions on pension and insurance,” Javadekar said.
We have supported the FDI concept but have caveats but are in the interests of Indian people and companies, he said
The party cannot make a final comment yet though until all concerns are met and if it is, then they can think of backing legislation, Javadekar said.
6:25 pm: TMC declares its opposition to economic decisions
TMC’s Suagata Roy said that they will oppose the decisions by the Cabinet.
“We will see how the government attempts to pass it through Parliament. We will oppose it in any way possible,” he said.
He promised agitations against the decisions taken today as well. Kolkata can expect another protest rally but if the Left decides on a bandh, then you can be sure Mamata won’t allow anyone to take the benefit of that.
6:20 pm: Insurance firms not surprised by decision, hopeful of Parliament passing it
Sandeep Bakshi of ICICI Pru Life tells ET Now that the intent of the government and regulator were known.
“It wasn’t a surprise to us,” he said.
Puneet Nanda from the same firm told CNBC that FDI in insurance will improve the governance and allow insurance firms access to long term capital, something that can only benefit the the sector.
6:10 pm: FDI in insurance, pension and Companies Bill cleared by Cabinet
CNBC reports that the Cabinet has cleared the changes in insurance and pension. FDI will now be permitted upto 49 percent in insurance and pension management firms.
The Cabinet has also cleared the Companies Bill, 2011, the channel reports.
6:00 pm: Other matters that the cabinet may have discussed
While everyone’s watching for pension and insurance decisions, the Cabinet was expected to discuss a range of legislation including the Companies Bill, giving statutory powers to the interim pension regulator and giving the forwards market regulator more power.
The Cabinet is also expected to discuss the final draft of the 12th Five Year Plan and also clear the creation of a National Investment Board to be headed by the Prime Minister for clearing mega projects.
5:40 pm: Will proposals get through Parliament?
Paranjoy Thakurta on CNN-IBN says it doesn’t matter if the government does pass the two proposals, it isn’t going to be passed by Parliament.
He’s got a point. The government doesn’t have the numbers as it stands in the Rajya Sabha. It might make it through in the Lok Sabha if the UP parties, SP and BSP, decide to back them. However, whether any of them will be backing FDI in insurance remains to be seen.
5:15 pm : Cabinet meet ends, Mamata roars
The Cabinet meet has ended and the announcement on whether FDI will be permitted in the two sectors are expected soon. The markets have risen a percent in expectation and the rupee is up. Do the ministers have good news for the ears of the markets?
Mamata Banerjee, though out of the government is still complaining, and says the move will end up putting pension funds into the hands of foreigners.
Given the bills even if cleared by the Cabinet, will need support in Parliament to be passed; should the UPA be paying heed to her?
Here’s some background on what’s expected in the Cabinet meeting today:
The cabinet is set approve bills that would raise the cap on foreign direct investment in insurance firms and open the pension sector to foreign investors, a government minister told reporters on Wednesday.
The bills, which require parliamentary approval before becoming law, will likely be taken up in the forthcoming parliamentary session.
This comes after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled measures aimed at shoring up government finances and attracting foreign investment to revive economic growth.
So far, foreign groups are not allowed to invest in the pension sector, while investment is capped at 26 percent in the insurance sector.
Earlier this year, Singh had to put on hold a similar bill after failing to win over allies and opposition parties.
On earlier three occasions, former Congress ally Trinamool Congress played spoilsport. In today’s meeting, the DMK has preferred to stay away citing political compulsions.
Domestic and foreign insurers, which have invested billions of dollars in India over the past decade, have been lobbying for years to raise the foreign direct investment limit.
The bills are likely to raise the cap on FDI in insurance firms to 49 percent and permit 26 percent foreign investment in the pension sector.
Earlier this month, the government raised the price of heavily subsidised diesel and cut supplies of subsidised cooking gas despite strong political opposition, including from within the ruling coalition.
It also opened up the retail sector to global supermarket chains, allowed foreign airlines to buy stakes in local carriers and raised the bar on foreign investment in broadcasting.