President Pranab Mukherjee today signed the ordinance to push reforms in the coal and insurance sectors. These ordinances were cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday after the government was unable to pass bills for these in the Winter Session of Parliament that ended on Tuesday.
The bills could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha as a united Opposition held up proceedings for much of the month-long session. The government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha.
The Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, 2008 could not be taken up for discussion despite being approved by the Select Committee of the Upper House. The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014 has already been approved by the Lok Sabha during the session, but that too could make no progress in the other House, as the Opposition stalled the Rajya Sabha over religious conversions and other issues.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said last week, "The government is extremely determined to go ahead with this (insurance sector) reforms and will not allow a parliamentary disturbance to obstruct or delay a reform of this kind."
On the Coal Bill, Mr Jaitley had said, "It is a bill which has been unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha. All doubts have been cleared. It was not allowed to come on the agenda of the Upper House."
The Insurance Bill, which has been pending since 2008 in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to increase the composite foreign investment limit in insurance companies to 49 per cent from current level of 26 per cent. The 49 per cent cap would include both FDI and foreign portfolio investments.
The passage of Coal Bill is essential as it would pave way for auctioning of coal mines which were cancelled by the Supreme Court.