New Delhi, Oct. 8: The government will introduce the insurance and the pension bills in the winter session of Parliament and try to seek the support of the major opposition parties.
Efforts will also be made to build a consensus among the states and the Opposition on the goods and services tax (GST), which will replace multiple local duties and subsume the value-added tax.
"I intend to meet the principal opposition parties and ask for their support," finance minister P. Chidambaram today said in a reply to queries on the insurance bill at the Economic Editors' Conference. "I don't expect opposition on most clauses except the increased cap on FDI in insurance. I expect a vigorous debate on the issue."
The BJP had agreed to help in the passage of the insurance bill, provided the foreign investment cap was retained at 26 per cent. However, the party has now made it clear that it would oppose the bill. The passage of the bill will be made difficult by the UPA's lack of majority in the Upper House.
However, finance ministry officials said there were no major hurdles to the pension bill, despite a clause linking the FDI level in pension funds to that in insurance rather than the 26 per cent cap recommended by the standing committee on finance, which is headed by BJP's Yashwant Sinha.
"If Parliament does not agree with the insurance amendments, FDI in pension stays at 26 per cent. If it agrees, it goes up," officials said.
The Centre will stress the need for reforms as an antidote to the global recessionary trends in its effort to build a consensus. "Without reforms, we risk a sharp and continuing slowdown of the economy, which we cannot afford given the need to generate jobs and incomes for a large population, most of whom are young," Chidambaram said.