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Hit by paralysis charge, govt to try pension reforms again


A day after partymen raised a stink over the UPA’s alleged policy paralysis at the Congress working committee meeting, the government moved to make amendments to the pension bill — one of the reforms measures that had been hit by coalition politics — at Thursday’s cabinet meeting. A cabinet note mentioned that the government had decided to address the concerns of all stakeholders and to build a broad consensus on pension reforms. Although the amended bill retains the cap on foreign direct investment at 26%, it allows the pensioner to demand minimum assured returns and withdraw from his account.


If the cabinet clears it, the government will try to pass the bill in the monsoon session of Parliament. The UPA — especially after the downgrading of India’s credit ratings and the nine-year low gross domestic product growth rate — revived the cabinet note prepared in February.


The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PRFDA) Bill, 2011 had been stuck in Parliament — first by the Left during UPA 1 and later by the Trinamool Congress, the second biggest UPA 2 constituent. 


TMC boss Mamata Banerjee wrote to the PM in December, asking him not to proceed with the bill as it may affect the common man’s savings. The BJP, however, has assured support.


On Tuesday, Trinamool leader and minister of state for urban development Saugata Ray told HT: “There is no change in our stand (even with the amendments to the bill).”


If cleared by the cabinet, UPA managers will have almost a month to convince the TMC. But in case Banerjee sticks to her guns, the government can push the bill through with support from parties like the SP and BSP.


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