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Nirmala brings Bill in LS to pare govt stake in general insurers

“With a view to provide for greater private participation in the public sector insurance companies... it has become necessary to amend certain provisions of the Act,” states the Bill objective.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
July 31, 2021 4:15:27 am
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Amid Opposition protests over the Pegasus issue, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday introduced a Bill in Lok Sabha that would pave the way for the government to divest its stake in general insurance firms. Opposition members strongly objected to it and called for its withdrawal.

The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 proposes amending the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 to remove the requirement for the Centre to hold at least 51 per cent of equity in an insurer. It also proposes a new Section, 24B, which will ensure that the Act stops applying to insurers on and from the date the Centre ceases to have control over them.

“With a view to provide for greater private participation in the public sector insurance companies… it has become necessary to amend certain provisions of the Act,” states the Bill objective.

Revolutionary Socialist Party leader N K Premachandran said: “This is total privatisation of general insurance companies. This cannot be accepted and cannot be allowed. The Bill is vague, indefinite, ambiguous and not in the consonance of the original act.”

Citing the uproar due to protests, Premachandran said he was “not able to substantiate my case because the House is not in order”. Congress member Suresh Kodikunnil also opposed the introduction of the Bill. “The House is not in order. I appeal to the honourable finance minister to withdraw this Bill,” Suresh said.

Sitharaman said, “The apprehensions mentioned by the members are not well founded at all. What we’re trying to do in this is not to privatise… We are certainly bringing some enabling provisions so that the government can bring in public participation, Indian citizens’ participation, the common people’s participation in the general insurance companies,” she said.

The government also introduced the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021 to replace an ordinance issued on the subject.

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